With the rapid increase in consumer complaints about their treatment at the hands of debt collectors, the federal government is beginning to crack down on these agencies and some of their questionable practices. If you are experiencing unjust treatment at the hands of a debt collector, below is some important information that will help you to protect yourself.
The debt might not be yours
After the financial meltdown of 2008, many banks and mortgage companies were left saddled with unmanageable levels of household and consumer debt. Many of these creditors were left with no option other than to sell that debt to debt collectors for pennies on the dollar, but much of the information provided on who owed money was incomplete at best. The result was that collectors were left guessing as to the true identities of debt holders and innocent people were targeted for debt collection who never borrowed, or owed money to being with.
Be aware of inaccurate/inflated debt
One of the most surreptitious practices of the debt collection industry involves inflating the level of debt owed by adding debt collection “fees” (essentially money owed by consumers to debt collectors for collecting the debt).
You have rights as a consumer
When you are contacted by a debt collector, and you are seriously doubtful about the validity of the claim, you are legally entitled to request that the collector, or collection agency provide you with proof of the loan and the debt. This will stop a collection company from calling you until they are able to provide you with that proof.
You are not allowed to be harassed
If you legitimately owe money to someone, or some company, they are legally entitled to collect that money. They can call repeatedly, even garnish your wages in order to reclaim the money they lent you. What they cannot do, however, is harass you. This includes calling you on numbers you have requested not to be contacted at.
Making your voice heard matters
If you feel that you are being harassed, or treated unfairly by debt collectors, complaining to federal or provincial authorities means that regulatory bodies are more apt to take future complaints seriously, and will do more to ensure that appropriate consumer protection is in place to stop bad practices from debt collectors.
If you are being contacted by debt collectors, and are suspicious about the claims, or bothered by their tactics, you are not powerless to do something about it. Keep the above information in mind and make sure that you know your rights and that debt collectors respect them. Just because someone claims you owe money does not necessarily make it so, and just because you do owe money, doesn’t mean you deserve to be treated unfairly.