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Ask the Experts

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Q:
Is there any complaint that can be filed directly to the collection agency?

A couple days ago I received a letter from a collection agency regarding a debt against me. I called the number listed on the letter. Before I could get any words out, the gentleman who claimed to be the owner demanded that I bring down a cashiers check immediately. When I explained to him that was not possible, he called my office manager. Is there anything I can do to stop these types of calls? Is there any complaint that can be filed directly to the collection agency? Any input you have would be appreciated. -Elvida

Elvida,

You can request that the collection agency not contact you anymore about this account. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) states, "If a consumer notifies a debt collector, in writing, that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such debt, except - (1) advise the consumer that the debt collector's further efforts are being terminated; (2) notify that specific remedies may be invoked; (3) that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy."

This is quoting directly from the FDCPA. Make sure, in your letter, you mention you are aware of this federal law. Tell them you also will be filing a formal complaint with your state Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission, Correspondence Branch, Washington, DC 20580. If you have questions about this Act, call the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Response Center at 877-382-4357. Although the FTC cannot resolve individual problems, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations. Be sure to send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested.

In your letter to this collection agency, also mention the FDCPA states, "a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than the consumer, his attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector." This is quoting directly from the law. This means the FDCPA prohibits a collector to communicate with any other third party, such as your employer, about your debt.

Please be aware that taking this action does not alleviate you of your responsibility for the debt.  In some cases, sending a cease and desist letter can actually escalate the collection process.  Therefore, it is extremely important that you have a plan to deal with this debt.  If you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to call a credit counselor at 800.432.7310 or to fill out an online counseling form.

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