Debt Collector Decorum

The Debt Collector Cotillion does not include calling consumers late at night, or causing their phones to ring continuously or repeatedly.  A good debt collector knows how to inspire you to pay within the law.  A bad collector strays into unfair debt collection practices. Just because you owe money does not mean you lack rights. The Federal Trade Commission has put together a two-minute video to walk you through the basics of debtors’ rights (you can view it online at http://bcove.me/t6s6l7lf); seek competent legal counsel if you need further assistance asserting your rights.   Read More

What Is Good in 20 Years?

You can get a 20-year warranty on a mattress, roof shingles, and vinyl flooring.  You know what else is still good in 20 years?  That debt judgment against you. So you got sued in Small Claims Court.  If you had nothing for a creditor or debt servicer to collect, then they still did not get paid and all they got was a judgment against you.  The thing is, that judgment is good for 20 years.  Your creditor or debt servicer can collect at any time during those 20 years.  That is a good deal for creditors and debt servicers…not so much for you. The other thing is, once you have a money judgment against you, the collection can happen with fewer symptoms than a heart attack.  You wake up one morning and the money in your bank account got disappeared.  They can garnish everything in your account up to the amount owed without prior notice.  Again, a good deal for creditors and debt servicers…not so much for you, especially if you were trying to pay rent that day. Everyone should pay their bills, but you have to be able to stay in your home, feed yourself, and put gas in […] Read More

Dr. Wolf’s Phantom Bill

Once upon a time a debt collector telephoned Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother about a medical bill.  “But I paid that bill two years ago,” Grandma Riding Hood told the caller.  Still, the caller insisted there was an outstanding balance and started asking for personal information, saying, “I have to be sure I am talking to the right person, so could you give me your date of birth, address, Social Security number, and account number you used to pay the bill?” Little Red Riding Hood happened to be visiting her grandmother that day and overhearing the conversation.  “Grandma, ask for something in writing,” she told her. “But I do not want to be rude,” said the Grandmother.  “After all, this was for Dr. Wolf who made that house call when I was sick.” “He locked you in the closet!” Little Red exclaimed. “He said it was good for my rheumatism,” Grandma Riding Hood replied. “He was going to eat me!” Little Red protested further. “Well, he was on a special diet, dear.” “Grandma, these debt collectors are required to send you something within 5 days in writing, and then you have 30 days to dispute the debt.  That will give […] Read More

Sample Letter to Stop Debt Collector Calls

Failed typing?  Fortunately the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has done most of it for you—just fill in the blanks to stop calls from debt collectors. You still owe the debt, but you do not have to deal with all the calls and letters.  Ask the debt collector to stop contacting you with this sample letter drafted by the FTC.  Download the letter and complete the information as indicated.  The body of the letter is already worded for you and the format is set. You do not have to have straight A’s in English to get your message across.  Let the FTC do the typing.  Go to http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0289-stop-calls-and-letters-debt-collector   Read More

Three Blind Mice Looking for Your Money

Once upon a time there were three blind mice.  The first mouse was a Nigerian Letter, the second mouse was a Vacation Misfortune, and the third mouse was an Unfair Debt Collector.  The three blind mice ran all over the place trying to find people to give them money.   Nigerian Letter A Nigerian Letter (often referred to as a Nigerian 419) tries to access your personal finances.  The scam plays on your sympathy and greed—you think you will make a fortune just by helping out a stranger, but the perpetrators want to empty your bank account. The Federal Trade Commission offers general information about the Nigerian Letter scam at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0002l-nigerian-email-scam.   Vacation Misfortune Someone you know sends you an email saying they have been mugged while vacationing in another country.  All cash, credit cards, and cell phones have been stolen, but lives and passports are intact.  The US embassy and police have done all they can.  The flight home leaves today, but the vacation victim cannot settle their hotel bill—please send money.   Unfair Debt Collection You owe money, you know you owe money, and then a debt collector calls all night long threatening to have you arrested if […] Read More