I found this on the net today. It was originally printed in Newsweek. Most of you probably know all this already.
ILLEGAL TACTICS SOME debt collectors USE
Thursday 08-07-2008 5:13am ET
Money is really tight these days and just about everyone is having a hard time paying their bills. But if you get too far behind on your payments, the collection agencies start calling. However, some of the methods they use are actually illegal. Here are some of the most common tactics according to Newsweek magazine:
1 in 4 calls to the Federal Trade Commission are complaints about debt collections. Including that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to recoup debts you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actually owe, trying to collect more than you owe, or using harassing or threatening behavior to force you to pay.
Half of all debt collectors use automated calling systems, but if the prerecorded message doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t reveal the name of the debt collector or what the call is about Ã¢â‚¬â€œ itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s considered deceptive. Try to get an actual person on the line. Then tell them that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re required to identify themselves and to prove that the debt is really yours. Then tell them that you want all further contact in writing.
Going after so-called Ã¢â‚¬Å“Zombie debtÃ¢â‚¬Â - a debt thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more than 10 years old. The problem with that is, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s beyond the statute of limitations for collection. Zombie debts are also difficult Ã¢â‚¬â€œ if not impossible Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to prove. If that happens to you, you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Trying to coerce you into providing a Ã¢â‚¬Å“token paymentÃ¢â‚¬Â or a Ã¢â‚¬Å“good faith paymentÃ¢â‚¬Â just to make them go away. Until theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve proven Ã¢â‚¬â€œ in writing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that the debt is yours, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give them a penny. Even paying $1 is considered an acknowledgement that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re responsible for the entire debt. Once you do that, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll keep going after you Ã¢â‚¬â€œ even if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t owe them anything.
By signing up a debt counseling session, your provided details (Name, Email ID and Phone No.) will be forwarded to the company advertising on the DebtCC. However, you have no obligation to use their services.
Some creditors and collection agencies refuse to lower the payoff amount, interest rate, and fees owed by the consumer.
Creditors/collection agencies can make collection calls and file lawsuits against the consumers represented by the debt relief companies.
Debt relief services may have a negative impact on the consumer's creditworthiness and his overall debt amount may increase due to the accumulation of extra fees.
The amount which the consumer saves with the use of debt relief services can be regarded as taxable income.