02/04/2008 06:36 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

If You Or Someone You Know Is Dealing With Bill Collectors, Please Read This

Have you ever received a call from a debt collector?

Just for the record, I know how it feels. Both in and after college, I worked as a debt collector for two major retail chains. Self-employed for more than 30 years, I have collected overdue bills for my business. And if memory serves, I've gotten a bill collector call or three over that same interim.

Some bill collectors are good to work with. Some are not. It is the latter to which I am directing this post.

Anyway, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission published its latest report on debt collection practices last week.
The report was picked up by the Alabama Consumer Law Blog. It since has been posted on the website of the Consumerist, which is a consumer news and rights website you really need to check out.

Would you believe that the FTC only filed one lawsuit in 2006 after receiving more than 69,000 complaints.

This despite the facts that:
  • In 2006 the FTC received more complaints against debt collectors than against any other industry
  • 40.3%, 27,929 consumers, complained of debt collectors attempting to collect more than they were owed
  • 3.4%, 2,387 consumers, complained that collectors were attempting to collect interest, fees, or expenses that were not owed, such as collection fees, late fees and court costs
  • 21.2% or 14,656 consumers complained of harassment from repeated or continuous calls
  • 22.1% or 15,314 consumers complained of debt collectors making calls to employers, friends and family repeatedly in an attempt to allegedly gather information to assist them in collecting the debt
  • 11.5% of the FDCPA complaints or 7,967 consumers complained of being harassed with collectors using obscene, profane or otherwise abusive language.
  • People, what we need is a stronger FTC, not a weaker one as the fans of at least one presidential candidate might tell you.

    11.4% or 7,913 consumers complained that they were threatened with a lawsuit or some other legal action that the debt collector could not or did not intend to take, such as seizure of property or arrest.