Ever get one of those annoying, bill collector calls? If you haven’t, feel very fortunate. Debt collectors don’t just call people who owe money, but they call family members, ex spouses, bosses, “neighbors, and friends,” all in an effort to find delinquent bill payers. There are other ways, too, that debt collectors obtain information that many of us are unaware of.
The most common way a debt collector finds information is through the phone book and certainly the internet. Beyond that, information can be obtained from credit applications, banks, the State Bureau of Motor Vehicles, voter registration forms, and information purchased from credit bureaus.
There are definitely more sophisticated ways to obtain information. Services can be purchased that compile information obtained from social security records, various licenses, military service, phone records, and much more. Really, it’s pretty scary when you think about it, how easy it can be to obtain a person’s private information.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are also illegal and subversive ways of information gathering. A debt collector might call and impersonate another business or person and mine you for information that way. Perhaps, they might call your friends, neighbors, and associates and try the same thing!
What’s really annoying is the number of calls that some people receive. They receive calls at work and on their cell phones. They just want the harassing calls to stop. A big reason of why so many calls are received may have to do with the way debt collectors get paid. According to Nolo.com some debt collectors are paid in part by the number of calls made. When calls translate to money, what’s to stop them? Of course, a wise collector will use some discernment in selecting past-due accounts to call on. If there’s a minimal chance to collect, then why waste the time? In order to prioritize accounts to follow through on, past credit reports is a useful tool.
If you are receiving nuisance calls and need them to stop, you must write to the debt collector requesting them to stop. Always keep a record of the correspondence sent, send it through certified mail, and ask for a return receipt. This will insure that you have proof of when you sent it and proof of when the company actually receives it.
Many people report to the BBB that they have no address for the debt collector, only a name and a phone number. It is important to call the debt collector back and request this information. If they refuse to provide it, contact the Federal Trade Commission. There are laws that debt collectors must adhere to, and this is one of several. (Click on the hyperlink for more information.)
For other questions, let your BBB know. Hopefully, this information was useful in helping you to understand a little better about debt collection practices and your rights as a consumer.
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