Debt Collection Harassment: Fighting Back

Hank Investigates: Money Monday – Fighting Back Against Debt Collectors

By Hank Phillippi Ryan, October 11, 2010


Are bill collectors bugging you? here’s the scoop even if you DO owe money there are rules they have to follow. And if they don’t you can make them pay! Hank Phillippi Ryan has the big-bucks details on tonight’s Money Monday.

The bill collectors called Cheyenne at home in Gloucester and threatened her with prison

Cheyenne

“They told me they were gonna come get me, and there’ll be to my house to arrest me!”

Buzz..that’s illegal.

The bill collectors hounded Eliza at work in Boston–even though she told them to stop

Eliza

“They were calling me at all hours of the day making threats against me, saying were going to come to your place of work.”

Buzz: that’s illegal.

Cheyenne and Eliza don’t make any excuses, they knew they owed money–from old college credit cards and years-ago unpaid bills. What they didn’t know: they could *make* some money–up to a thousand bucks!–because they proved those relentless bill collectors were breaking the law.

Eliza

“I had no idea that anything was out here like that!”

It’s a little known clause in a big federal law it says consumers can take bill collectors who break the rules to court and sue for damages. If you win, your legal fees will be paid! This lawyer has won thousands of cases.

Sergei Lemberg, Attorney

“People don’t know that even though they may owe the debt, that they have rights.”

For instance, the law says a bill collector can’t:

*Call you incessantly

*Call before 8AM or after 9PM

*Use abusive language or profanity

*Make threats that you’ll be imprisoned or lose your jobs if you don’t pay

*Call you at work after you’ve told them to stop

Some victims are like Brian: He didn’t owe a penny, but bill collectors wouldn’t leave him alone at his home in Blackstone–even though he repeatedly told them they had the wrong guy.

Brian

“I was frustrated because it wasn’t my debt and they just continually called.”

Buzz: that’s illegal, too.

Bill collectors must prove that you owe the money. The US Federal Trade Commission says illegally aggressive bill collectors are out of control last year there were 119,000 complaints about them, more than ever!

Sergei Lemberg, Lawyer

“I think they get away with it the vast majority of times.

So these consumers fought back in court and they won! Bob was awarded $750. Cheyenne and Eliza got $1000. What began as unfair harassment turned into big bucks.

Cheyenne

“I know I’m probably not the only one and now other people will know.”

Again, if you really owe a bill you still have to pay it!

Original story: At WHDH Channel 7

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