If you feel that debt collectors have been threatening you and crossing the line, you are not alone. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau recently released a survey reporting that more than one-in-four consumers feel threatened by a debt collector, and a majority of those contacted about debt say the calls persist even after requests to stop.
Debt collection is a multi-billion dollar industry affecting 70 million consumers. Banks and other original creditors may collect their own debts or hire third-party debt collectors. When they fail to collect debts they often sell these debts to debt buyers. The buyers may try to collect on these debts, or hire third-party debt collectors to do so. And so on and so on. More than 6,000 debt collection firms are estimated to operate in the United States.
The CFPB survey asked consumers about their encounters with debt collectors. Questions included whether consumers had been contacted by debt collectors in the past year, how frequently, and the nature of the debt. About one-third of consumers (more than 70 million Americans) were contacted by a creditor or debt collector about a debt in the previous year. Consumers are most often contacted about medical and credit card debt.
The CFPB survey also found that even though debt collectors are generally prohibited from harassing consumers, twenty-seven percent of consumers said they felt threatened. About 40 percent of consumers contacted about a debt said they had asked at least one debt collector or creditor to stop contacting them, but of these 40 percent, three-in-four said the debt collector did not honor the request. Fifty-three percent of consumers contacted about a debt in the year prior said at least one collection effort was a mistake in some way — the collector sought the incorrect amount, the debt was not owed, or the person owing the debt was a family member. There are more statistics and the report is available on the CFPB’s website at http://files.consumerfinance.
The CFPB also posted videos about consumers’ personal experiences with debt collection. These online videos highlight consumer stories about being pursued for debts that weren’t owed, consumers being contacted too often, and consumers who were threatened with jail by debt collectors. The stories are available at http://www.consumerfinance.
If you have had bad experiences with a debt collector, contact us. We can help you understand your rights, file a complaint with the CFPB, or pursue any other legal actions you may have against debt collectors.