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Consumers' rights dealing with debt collection agencies


Many Illinois residents have credit card or medical debts that they have had trouble paying off, and in some cases these obligations are assigned to, or purchased by, third party debt collection agencies. It is not uncommon for these collectors to use harassing behavior in order to try and force the debtor to pay off the balance that is owed. Some of the activities that they employ are prohibited by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and in some cases a debtor who has been the victim of this unlawful behavior may be able to obtain financial recourse.

The FDCPA does not apply to the actual creditor, such as the issuer of the credit card, or to the creditor's collections department, but only to third-party collectors. However, some states have similar laws directed at the actual creditor itself. Prohibited actions include calling repetitively or at odd hours, threatening criminal prosecution, using offensive or profane language, lying, divulging information about a person's account to a third party, and calling or contacting a debtor once it is known that the debtor has legal representation.

The FDCPA provides recourse to a victimized debtor in the form of a $1,000 penalty that is owed by the collector to the debtor for each infraction committed by the collection agency. In order to document such a violation, it is suggested that those who are being harassed should announce that they are recording the conversation when the collector calls.

Should the harassment continue, this can constitute documentation of the behavior, which the debtor can use if a decision is made to sue the debt collector for a violation. If the debtor is able to prevail in court with such evidence and accordingly obtain a judgment, then of course it will be necessary to make an attempt to enforce it. A consumer rights attorney can provide more information on this type of issue.

Source: Main Street, "Does a Debt Collection Agency Owe You Thousands of Dollars?", Nicholas Pell, Jan. 15, 2015