04/26/2012 11:55 am ET Updated Apr 26, 2012

Diana Mey Has Trouble Collecting Court-Ordered $10 Million From Debt Collectors

One woman is having trouble getting a debt collector to fork over its debt to her.

Diana Mey, a West Virginia housewife, won an eight-figure court judgment last summer after being subjected to what she calls abusive and unjustified harassment from debt collectors, according to ABC News.

So Mey fought back, and in August a judge awarded her $10,860,000. But the collection agency appears to have dried up and disappeared, according to ABC News. And at this point, it's not clear whether Mey will ever get her money.

Though it's a mixed victory, Mey's $10 million judgment represents one of the biggest strikes to date against the debt collection industry, whose members have grown markedly more aggressive in the last few years, according to a recent report from Marketdata Enterprises, a market research firm.

More and more, people like Mey are fighting back. In California, to take a particularly striking example, the number of lawsuits accusing debt collectors of "violating federal law" has exploded in the last seven years, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The debt collection field is more crowded than it used to be, thanks to advances in home technology, which makes it easier for small-time entrepreneurs to get involved in the debt collection business. And the economic downturn has left more Americans unable to settle their debts, thanks to widespread unemployment and wages that are barely going up for most people.

At this point, there are countless accounts of debt collectors going to remarkable lengths to pursue and intimidate people who may or may not owe money. Collectors have been accused of calling people out on Facebook, badgering patients in hospitals, making ghoulish threats about digging up dead bodies, and falsely claiming that debtors could face arrest if they don't settle what they owe.

One in seven Americans has had some kind of interaction with a debt collector, according to Federal Reserve data -- a rate twice as high as 10 years ago. And the Federal Trade Commission received a record 164,361 public complaints about debt collectors in 2011, according to The Wall Street Journal.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post wrongly referred to Mey's $10 million judgment as a settlement.