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Advice to Deal with Tactics Used by Debt Collectors

Mark Cappel
UpdatedApr 15, 2024

I was tricked by a debt collector into a verbal agreement to make payments on my husbands credit card, is this legal?

My husbands credit card was put into collections. the CA called and got me and tried to get me to commit to an agreement to settle his debt ( im not on the card). i thought it was the cc comp. i was confused but i said we could not afford the monthly amount they were asking they said " well for now lets just SAY that is it an you'll see what you can do" as i said we need to go over our budget and speak to my husband.. i said well ok but i know we cant do THAT much but ill see what we have. well they took that as an agreement, got me on tape and all saying "yes" so a SET agreement when they said " we'll just say for now and we'll see".. i gave them to my mistake our routing # for our acct as i thoguht it was the cc and they have it already.. i only gave it for the future use we WOULD be making when we decided after speaking to my husband what we can pay.. but they began to go on and take pre-auth debts of the large sum saying it was agreed and set.. we didnt have enough so it was sent back and we stopped and blocked them b/c after telling them we cant afford that they refused so we took out $ out and blocked them.. now they are saying we are bouncing checks over state lines as they will continue to keep taking the $ and they want to "pursue us".. i told them im not the cardholder and you cannot ask me for that info or make an agreement with me you need to contact him she said they can make an agreement with me and will hold us to it. where is my legal rights? now what do we do?

Unfortunately, the harassment and deceptive collection techniques to which you and your husband are being subjected by this collection agency are all too common in the collection industry. In my years working with consumers like you who are experiencing a financial downturn, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard an almost identical story, including a collection agency telling a consumer that he or she is violating federal law by "bouncing checks over state lines." Due to the high-pressure techniques used by many collection agencies, consumers are frequently coerced into agreeing to payments much higher than what they can actually afford. This claim about bouncing checks is used by many agencies as a standard response when people are unable to make the ridiculously high payments the collectors demand.

Not only is what these collectors are telling you a flat-out lie, their statements are very likely violations of federal law (the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act). If you would like to read more about your rights as a consumer, I encourage you to visit the Federal Trade Commission debt collection page. Simply giving a collection agency a routing number and account number does not commit you to any payment. Even if you had authorized a payment, you have the right to stop the payment; why else would your bank give you the ability to place a "stop payment" on a check. The allegations being made by this collection agency are empty threats; you have committed no crime by closing your account or withdrawing your funds before the collection agency could take its payments, which you did not authorize in the first place.

Under federal law, a third-party collector is required to stop contacting you if you notify it in writing to cease communications with you. If this collection agency continues to call, harass, and threaten you, you may wish to send the agency a cease communications demand letter. You can review an sample cease and desist letter on the Debt DIY page. I recommend that you send your letter via certified mail, return receipt requested, so that you have a record of the letter’s delivery. If the collection agency continues to call after receiving your letter, it will likely be in further violation of federal collection law, and you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the agency. If you find it necessary to pursue legal action against the collector, either for violating your cease communication demand or for making false representations about your "bouncing checks," I would encourage you to consult with a consumer rights attorney licensed in your state who should be able to better explain your rights and tell you what action you should take against the collection firm. For help finding an experienced consumer attorney in your state, you can visit the Web site of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. You may also want to file a complaint against the agency with your state Attorney General’s office and with the Federal Trade Commission.

Although you can probably stop the collection calls and harassment you have been experiencing, your husband will probably still be liable for the debt in question. I invite you to read about the various options available to assist consumers who are struggling with their debts by visiting the Debt Help page. I wish you the best of luck in resolving the problems you have been experiencing with this collection agency, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.



Dealing with debt

If you are struggling with debt, you are not alone. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Quarter Q4 2023 was $17.503 trillion. Student loan debt was $1.601 trillion and credit card debt was $1.129 trillion.

According to data gathered by from a sample of credit reports, about 26% of people in the US have some kind of debt in collections. The median debt in collections is $1,739. Student loans and auto loans are common types of debt. Of people holding student debt, approximately 8% had student loans in collections. The national Auto/Retail debt delinquency rate was 4%.

Collection and delinquency rates vary by state. For example, in Idaho, 14% have student loan debt. Of those holding student loan debt, 6% are in default. Auto/retail loan delinquency rate is 3%.

To maintain an excellent credit score it is vital to make timely payments. However, there are many circumstances that lead to late payments or debt in collections. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to deal with debt including debt consolidation and debt relief solutions.