A story we have heard a few times recently regarding collector threats deals with them advising the
consumer that they are going to mark down that the consumer is
refusing to pay the debt. The story usually starts with the
collector calling and attempting to procure payment of the entire
debt. Most consumers in the current economic status of this
country are unable to pay off an entire account at once – after
all, the account would not have been in collections in the first
The consumer, wanting to pay off the debt, attempts to make a
request for a payment plan so that it can be paid off in
increments. The collector refuses, and tells the consumer
that they have to pay the debt in full. After some haggling,
perhaps the consumer gets the collector to budge and accept a
payment plan. However, the plan is wholly unreasonable and
calls for the consumer to come up with two or three times the
amount they can afford. Still the consumer works at trying to
lower the payment amount.
The collector then states: “If you do not pay this in full, we
are going to report that you are refusing to pay.” This
threat conjures up an impression to the consumer that something bad
is going to happen. Many people believe that this means
that the file is getting turned over to a lawyer who will sue
because the consumer refuses to pay. From our experience,
this threat has been quite bothersome to consumers who claim that
they never refused to pay, and don’t want to be treated as if they
refuse (because they believe the consequences to be worse).
They just want to pay it off.
This threat may violate the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,
15 U.S.C. §1692e, and subsection 1692e(8) in particular.
This particular section states that a collector cannot report or
threaten to report, to any person any credit information that is
false or that should be known to be false. By threatening to
communicate to a creditor that the consumer refuses to pay, the
debt collector is threatening to report something false. It
is credit information – a persons ability or propensity to pay
debts, and it is false, as the consumer has made their desire to
pay clear. Moreover, though many collectors believe
otherwise, nothing in this section states that the credit
information has to be reported to a credit reporting agency.
Rather, it just states that the false information needs to be
reported to any “person”. Therefore, the threat
to report that a consumer refuses to pay a debt when the consumer
has done no such thing presents a potential case under the
When you’re being pursued by debt collectors, you have
rights, and we’re here to help. SmithMarco, P.C. has been protecting
consumer rights since 2005. If you feel that you’re rights have
been violated, please contact us for a
free case review.