Advice If You're Being Harassed by Collection Agent

Are debt collectors allowed to lie about why they are contacting someone?

Are debt collectors allowed to lie? I just got a call from Northland Group. They asked for me and said the reason for the call was to verify me as a personal reference for someone I had never heard of. This seems like a shady technique and I'm wondering if it is legal.

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  • Know your rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
  • Take the right steps to stop debt collector harassment.
  • Pursue legal action, if you have been the victim of illegal collections practices.

Third-party debt collectors or collection agents pursue payments on debts owed by individuals or businesses. Collections agents may work on behalf of a creditor, or may purchase the account receivable from the creditor for a fraction of the account's face value.

Fair Debt Collections Practices Act

All third-party collection agents are regulated by a federal law called the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. When an original creditor has a department or group that functions as a collection agent the original creditor becomes bound by the provisions of the FDCPA. Also, in Texas, New York, and California, all original creditors at all times are bound by the FDCPA.

The FDCPA states, among other things, that collection agents may not make false or misleading statements while attempting to collect debts. To learn more about your rights under the FDCPA, I encourage you to visit the Federal Trade Commission FDCPA FAQ.

After learning more about your rights as a consumer, if you believe the collection agent who contacted you is violating the FDCPA, you may wish to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your state Attorney General's (AG) consumer protection office. To find contact information for the AG's office in your state, see the National Association of Attorneys General list of AGs.

Once you file a complaint with the AG's office, the AG's staff will contact the collection agency to notify the company of your complaint, and what action you want the agency to take to resolve your complaint. Filing complaints against the collector will likely stop the telephone calls you have been receiving. Depending on the seriousness of the allegations, the collector may also be willing to forgive all or a portion of the debt claimed in order to settle your complaints.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Collection Agent

In addition to filing complaints against the collection agent for violating the FDCPA, you may have a "cause of action" to file a lawsuit against the company. A cause of action is a reason under the law to file a lawsuit. I frequently see consumers file claims successfully for statutory damages allowed by federal law.

If you are interested in pursuing legal action against the collection agency, I would encourage you to consult with a consumer rights attorney licensed in your state who can review your case. If the attorney thinks a viable case exists, he may be able to help you in filing a lawsuit against the collector for damages caused by its illegal collection activity. The National Association of Consumer Advocates will help you find a consumer rights attorney in your area who can assist you in pursuing legal action against this collection agency, if you choose to do so.

Cease Communication Demand Letter

If your primary goal is to stop the phone calls you are receiving from collectors, you may be better served by simply sending a written cease communication demand letter to the agency. Under the provisions of the FDCPA, a debt collector is required to stop calling you (with very limited exceptions) if you notify the agency in writing to cease communications.

For an example of a cease communication (a.k.a., cease and desist) letter, see the Bills.com debt self-help center. If you decide to send a cease communication request, I encourage you to use certified mail, return receipt requested; this will provide you proof that your letter was received in case the collector continues to call and you need to take further action against the agency.

In many cases, sending a C&D letter will end the collection calls, so you may find that no further action is needed on your part. However, if you do continue to receive collection calls, you may need to take further action such as filing complaints and/or legal action, as outlined above.

Resolve the Debt

Federal law provides you with a significant protection against abusive collection tactics by debt collectors. That said, stopping collection calls does not make the underlying debt go away. I encourage you to visit the Bills.com Debt Help page to read more about the various debt relief options available to consumers who are struggling with debt.

I wish you the best of luck in resolving this debt, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

17 Comments

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  • MP
    Jun, 2011
    mandi
    I have been recieving a harassing phone call from this place in california called Bureau of crime and investagation of law enforcment and network of california and they say I owe cash advance 300.00 for a loan I never recieved. They told me that they were gonna come arrest me and my two personal contacts if I didnt take care of the matter. I asked for the number to the loan company and at first they didnt have it, I then called when I got home and talked to a supervisor and he gave me the number to the cash advance place.I called and they said I recieved a loan from them on 11/20/2010 I didnt even have internet access at that time and I searched my bank statments and I do not see a loan from them on it! I tried to look up that bureau on the internet and i can not find a phone number. Please help!!!!
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Jun, 2011
      Bill
      Trust your memory and the bank statements in front of you. You are almost certainly dealing with a fake debt collector. Follow the link I just mentioned to learn how to handle this situation. Ask any follow-up questions you may have on that page.
      0 Votes

    • SH
      Jun, 2011
      Shawn
      Bureau of law and investigation is not legit. I checked them out. They call and say they have an field person trying to locate you and if you tell them you will meet them to get the papers from them. Then they say, "so you are saying you refuse to pay?" Just tell them you didnt say that but you need a number for your lawyer to call them back. They dont give it. All they do is run around your request.
      0 Votes

  • MM
    Apr, 2011
    myra
    I have been being harrassed by a payday loan collection agencie and they are threatening to issue a warrant for my arrest today, and contact my employer as well, they have also been harrassing my elderly parents, daily, what can I do and can they arrest me for a payment on a loan from june of 2008? please help...
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Apr, 2011
      Bill
      District attorneys and judges are the only people who issue arrest warrants. Payday lenders are not district attorneys or judges. Therefore, a payday lender may not issue an arrest warrant. Like you and me, a payday lender has the right to file a police report, and the police may forward such a complaint to the DA, but any DA's office that issues an arrest warrant for a payday loan is overstaffed or severely lacking in proper priority setting.
      0 Votes

  • SB
    Dec, 2010
    spazz
    I am being harassed by a payday loan company that will not give me any info on the loan. The said that they are based in California. I have never received e-mails, letters in the mail. They told me they could come to NY and have me arrested for computer fraud and theft. When I ask who the company is so that I could go through my records, they refuse to give me any info until it is payed off. Any Ideas HELP
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Dec, 2010
      Bill
      You have good reason to be wary, given the lack of information provided by the payday loan company as well as the threats they are making against you. You can request to have the debt validated. According to Section 809(b), 15 U.S.C. ยง 1692g(b), if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the 30-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector. You can find a sample debt validation letter at the Bills.com debt self-help center. Lastly, the threats that are being made sound like a violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, a federal law that governs the behavior of debt collectors. Read about the FDCPA and how you can take steps to stop the harassment by the creditor.
      0 Votes

    • JC
      Dec, 2010
      Jennifer
      I too am being harassed by Cash Net USA. I almost died laughing when I saw that you were having the exact same words spoken to you. I have to tell you that they are calling my work too. They spoke to my boss as well and told her the company would be paying for my debt. They mentioned it was a legal matter and got her very upset. She hung up the phone and the gentleman who was really rude called back 4 times. He claimed that federal investigators were going to come to my work and arrest me. This is horrible. Im so embarrassed in front of my employees and this could cost me my job. I need to find out how I can get them in trouble. It isnt fair. I know I made a mistake getting into pay day loan debt. Im trying to pay it off, but at this point it is a vicious cycle. Im most likely going to have to file Ch 7 bankruptcy now. I ve rolled the loans over so many times the company should have at least gotten their principal. (The amt I borrowed) They still threaten me by saying I am a fraudulent check writer and it is a criminal offense. They are lying. It is a civil matter, not a criminal offense.
      0 Votes

    • BA
      Dec, 2010
      Bill
      Consult with an attorney in your state who has experience in consumer law. A creditor is permitted to contact an employer to learn the contact information of the debtor, but that is all. Anything beyond that is out-of-bounds under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If your manager will sign a statement or is willing to testify about the collection agent's outrageous behavior, then you have a cause of action (a legal reason to sue) against the collection agent. At minimum, file a complaint with the FTC. Filing a complaint may not help you right now, but enough people file complaints about this creditor the FTC will launch an investigation and possibly file charges against the creditor.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2010
    Kendra: Yes, if the facts you shared are accurate. Consult with an attorney in your state who has experience in consumer law. Explain to him or her what you wrote here.
    0 Votes

  • BA
    May, 2010
    Bill
    Please enter your comments using the correct case. Asking a question in ALL CAPS is difficult to read. It also comes across as shouting, which I am sure was not your intent.

    First, reread the article above. Second, review the link I mentioned in my April 1, 2010 comment here to another reader. Third, contact the Attorney General's office in your state to learn more about your state's laws regarding consumer protection in collections. The payday lender may not contact your neighbors, period. The payday lender may not contact you at work, except to verify your employment. Make notes of these violations of the FDCPA because you may have a cause of action (a reason to sue) the payday lender and receive damages. Consult with an attorney in your state who has experience in consumer law to learn more about your rights in your state.
    0 Votes

    • KJ
      Dec, 2010
      Kendra
      I too am being harrassed by the company Cashnet USA. They have called my job, spoken with my supervisor, and said that someone would be coming to arrest me. I have asked repeatedly to not be contacted at work and to have documentation mailed to me concerning this debt. They will not comply. Yesterday they called my dad and my uncle who were two references on my application and told them that a warrant was being filed against me for writing 5 bad checks and that I was going to be arrested. They told my uncle the only way to prevent me from going to jail would be to pay $600 which he immediately paid using his credit card. Is this a legal complaint that could be filed against the company for harrassment and providing false information to my employer and relatives?
      0 Votes