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About collection agencies

When collectors are trained, many call centers require that the agent not give up control of the call. They are trained to be assertive, demanding, and to talk over the debtor during an argument. They are also taught to refer back to any and all possible consequences of non compliance. It is illegal for them to threaten any action they do not intend to or cannot take (a common, illegal threat is to prosecute the debtor for fraud).

Collection agencies are not permitted to call excessively, although the law likely differs from an individual’s opinion as to the definition of excessive. Should you tell a collector that you are going to try to obtain the money in the next few days; the collector will schedule a callback. If you do not call back, the collector will do so starting from the scheduled time/date, and continue for approximately a week. If you have made a promise to pay an amount, the collector will again set a callback time/date. In the event the money is not received and you have not contacted the collector, they will conduct follow up calls, as frequently as twice a day for up to a week. Telling a collector over the phone to stop calling is not effective. To stop all calls, you must put it in writing.

Abusive, illegal tactics by collection agencies can include the following:
Contacting you at work when you have already informed the collectors that it is not permissible
Contacting 3rd parties after contact has been made with you
Disclosing or threatening to disclose information to 3rd parties (friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, supervisors, etc…)
Threatening to have you arrested
Reporting or threatening to report false information on your credit report
Threatening any other action they cannot or do not intend to carry out
Name calling (examples include deadbeat, liar, and thief)
Using profanity
Attempting to collect a debt, or the portion thereof, that is currently in dispute
Contacting you over the telephone after you have sent a letter revoking their ability to do so
Calling in excess of what the law (your state law or the FDCPA98, whichever is more strict) permits
Contacting you in any manner after you have sent a thorough cease and desist letter—except to inform you of any action now in progress, i.e., a lawsuit

In the event of violations, you must preserve your rights. File a complaint with the FTC, the state agency that oversees collection agencies, and/or obtain a lawyer. If the agency is based out of state, you may be able to file a complaint in their state as well.

One of a debtor’s rights when dealing with a 3rd party collection agency is to demand that communications cease. The debtor can demand to be contacted by mail only, or not at all. Should the debtor send a complete CND letter, it is advisable only when the statute of limitations has run out for the debt. Otherwise, the letter will be interpreted (assuming that it doesn’t blatantly state so) as a refusal to pay the debt. The collection agency/creditor may very well file a lawsuit, viewing litigation as the only way to receive payment. A letter restricting communication to letter form only, in many collection agencies, move the debtor’s account from a collector to the compliance department (or whatever the dept is named, that attempts to ensure that the law is followed regarding debt collection) or experienced collectors will prepare a letter for the account.

It is my personal opinion that any and all correspondence sent to the collection agency be sent using certified mail. This is to provide the sender with a return receipt, which may prove very useful evidence in the event you take the collection agency to court.

Many people wish to not work with the collection agency, and instead work with the creditor. A debtor may attempt to work with the original creditor as long as they still own the account. If the debt has been sold, then it is no longer possible to work with the OC. Some entities by policy refuse to work with a debtor once the account has been assigned to a CA. This is not limited to consumer debts, and can include taxes, student loans, tuition, traffic tickets and other civil penalties. Most collection agencies that are collecting assigned debts do so on a contingency basis, and may only settle on the OC's terms.

It is important to know that collection agencies can do the following:

-Require the full payment immediately
-Not accept partial payments
-When attempting to locate the debtor, they may contact 3rd parties to obtain contact info (neighbors, friends, family members, etc…)
-Sue you for the debt (if past the statute of limitations, the defense is expiration of SOL)
-Ask you for your employer, banking info, income, etc…you are not required to give this information to them
-Attempt to collect a debt that has passed the SOL
-Use power phrases, such as “refusal to comply/cooperate”
-Explain any and all possible consequences of not paying off the debt*
Many collection agencies will perform some level of negotiating.
Simplified examples of negotiations may include the following:

-PIF demand --> settlement of 2/3
-PIF demand --> ½ down, ½ in 2 weeks or a month --> ½ down, 2 payments of 1/4
-PIF demand --> 2/3 down, partial payment plan over 3-12 months
-SIF offer, limited time only

The older the debt, the lower a company may be willing to settle for, but no matter which collection agency is attempting to collect, they will likely use boiler room tactics. In other words, the money must be in by 2 p.m., end of the day, end of the week, etc… Whenever a debtor is told that the money must be in by 2:00 p.m. (sometimes 3 p.m.), it is often because any payments received after that time will be applied to the next business day’s collections. Towards the end of the month, the collection attempts often get more aggressive. This is because most collectors/collection manager’s bonuses are based upon some form of monthly productivity, and they are striving to reach or maximize that bonus check.

The terms will soften only over time, provided the CA does not aggressively litigate. After each offer you are given is rebuffed, the collector will likely press you harder by explaining possible consequences (and in the case of abusive collections, will threaten you with things they cannot actually do).

On accounts that have passed the statute of limitations, collectors will attempt to have you verbally acknowledge the debt, especially if the call is being recorded, or having you make a token payment. Even a minuscule payment, or a promise to pay, will restart the clock. A cease and desist letter that does not acknowledge the debt, but does inform the CA that said debt has lapsed is probably the best defense.

Some collection agencies will refuse all payment plan offers, accepting only the BIF. These most aggressive companies will only take the PIF, or litigate the matter. Unfortunately, if they are legally entitled to collect the debt, they then do have the prerogative to proceed this way. Even though it isn’t “right,” it is legal. Before suing you, a debt collector must have either bought the debt, or been assigned to collect on the debt by the entity that does own it. In the event a debtor has asked for validation and is sued prior to being given said validation, then the debtor should answer with a counter claim for FDCPA8 violations.

It might be worth noting a couple of other things. First, many collectors are rarely paid a good wage. They may be paid a few dollars above minimum wage, but have the incentive of a potentially large bonus check after exceeding the amount they are budgeted to collect. The bonus can effectively double or better their standard wages. A second interesting fact is that a good number of collectors end up with the job after having been collected upon themselves, even with the same office if they live in the area.

*There is a difference between giving possible consequences and threatening.
For example: A collector may explain that failure to pay a traffic citation can result in the driver’s license being suspended (if that in fact can happen). A collector may not state that he/she is going to suspend the license unless the debtor pays.

BIF = Balance in Full
SIF = Settlement in Full
PIF = Paid in Full
CA = Collection Agency
OC = Original Creditor
fdcpa = Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
FTC = Federal Trade Commission

Thank you for responding today. Today I met with lawyer and they said if I get sued either judge will order to have my wages garnished or if I can not pay any thing at all the judge will be obligated to put a lien on my bank account. And the CA can always after I get a real paying job after I am done with school start collecting and garnishing from that employer. Today I also found out that collection agency is sueing me.
I appreciate any word of advice.

Sub: #81 posted on Tue, 10/06/2009 - 21:45


My name is Gregg Williams and i am a debt settlement agent for settle a debt in Ny. We are an attorney based debt settlement agency with over 30 years of experience, typically getting settlments between 30 and 55 percent. our goal would be to stop your harrassing phone calls and set you up with a payment plan for ALL YOUR UNSECURE DEBTS THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD. if you have any questions as to how i can help you please call deleted.

sorry greggy,but no solicitation per TOS rules.

Sub: #82 posted on Tue, 10/20/2009 - 13:33


Good Evening,

My fiancee has been layed off for 9 months and a debt collection has been calling and making threats about taking him to court. Well he is hard of hearing and now they are threating me saying they will take everything I own. But the debt is in my fiancee's name. Can we file a suit or something against them? I sound like a broken record when I say he is layed off he is layed off I am tired of it and now they are calling his mother. Its very embarrasing for us. Its not his fault for getting layed off. I thought maybe they will help you out but I guess I am wrong.

Sub: #83 posted on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 18:35

anubis1977 anubis1977

(Posts: 1 | Credits: )

who are these imbeciles?one,they can't even touch you on his debt unless it's in your name as well.also contacting your mother,someone who has nothing to do with this is also against the law.i would check your state laws in regards to recording calls.have your mother do the same.i take it they have sent nothing in writing.time to look into your legal options.your fiancee's situation is not unique.complie your proof.have your mother do the same.then go to NACA.NET.there you should be able to find a consumer attorney who will sue this place on a contingency basis.time to make these places pay for their illegalities.

Sub: #84 posted on Fri, 10/23/2009 - 05:02

paulmergel paulmergel
Moderators Cum Industry Expert
(Posts: 15514 | Credits: )

If they do sue you even though you have been paying payments what happens in court. I wrote my problem 3 differant times today and havent got an answer. Please someone read. Maybe paul mergel could pull my posts and help with some info. I just get tired typing it over and over.Thanks

Sub: #85 posted on Mon, 10/26/2009 - 13:44

Jerry Carden Jerry Carden

(Posts: 18 | Credits: )

well then you show the judge all the bank statements showing you were paying.that should cut ice in that case.were you paying whoever is suing,and does the receipts,or statements reflect that.if so then you should have no problem getting the judge to dismiss.

Sub: #86 posted on Mon, 10/26/2009 - 14:47

paulmergel paulmergel
Moderators Cum Industry Expert
(Posts: 15514 | Credits: )

I was paying the collection place,

Sub: #87 posted on Tue, 10/27/2009 - 14:40

Jerry Carden Jerry Carden

(Posts: 18 | Credits: )

so the place you were paying is suing right?

Sub: #88 posted on Tue, 10/27/2009 - 14:41

paulmergel paulmergel
Moderators Cum Industry Expert
(Posts: 15514 | Credits: )

Yes it is a collection agency. He will accept my payments but only if I post date checks for the next 2 or 3 months. He said to show that I am sincre about paying the debt.I told him I was in the red and I don't want to make things worse. I"m just scared that if i went to court the judge would take $800 amonth( 25% of my salary a month) and everything would just start to fall around me. My rent is $1500 a month and car ,gas,and food for the month another $700. I'm just not sure what would happen and hate to lose everything. I have never missed a payment and never had to be tracked down. I have increase the payment by $50 a month. I dont mind paying him but he wont deal with me unless I post date checks over the phone. He told me if I can't do that he was going to turn it overto his legal dept. I'm not sure how much is bluff and how much is real. I have been paying on line with my debit/visa card. Does that mean he has my banking info already. Thank you very much for helping me. I have been dealing with the IRS ($13000) State of Colorado ($1000) 3 credit card companies ( $1000 each) Getting them paid and no problems so far.This guy at Wakefield and Assocaites is the collections supervisor and don't want to do this any way but by check over the phone deal. Any ideas or has anybody ever heard of this place. Thank you so much.:D

Sub: #89 posted on Tue, 10/27/2009 - 15:02

Jerry Carden Jerry Carden

(Posts: 18 | Credits: )

Let's let this hang for a little bit, to see what the other regulars think, but...

In your place I'd offer him his payments by money order or cashier's check only, and only via US Mail. If that wasn't good enough, I'd tell the idiot to go pound sand. I'd also document my sincere good-faith effort to pay by whatever means I had to. CMRRR, recording phone calls, etc. BTW, Colorado is a one-party state, meaning that you don't have to tell him you're recording. If he wants to take you to court after that because you wouldn't post-date checks, let him. He'll look damn foolish in front of a judge, explaining why your documented offer of payment wasn't good enough.

Under no circumstances would I give my banking information to a CA. Any CA. Too easy for them to clean out the account, leaving me (you) with nothing.

Sub: #90 posted on Tue, 10/27/2009 - 16:17

unclewulf unclewulf
(Posts: 3172 | Credits: )

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