As we move through the second month of 2015, the Better Business Bureau (“BBB”), the nonprofit organization focused on establishing trust within the marketplace, has stated in a recent report that it is still focusing its efforts on fielding complaints from consumers regarding the debt collection industry. While it shouldn’t come as a surprise, the BBB states in its report that the debt collection industry remains on top as one of the greatest number of consumer complaints received.
Even the most financially responsible consumer can end up in a sticky situation with a collection agency. Collection agencies don’t discriminate, and any consumer who may have missed even a single payment or had their identity stolen can more than likely attest to their ruthlessness. While verbal communication with a debt collector can cause a consumer stress, collection accounts reported on a consumer report can damage your credit report for as long as 7 years, even after an account is paid off in full.
To avoid being the victim of a debt collector’s abuse, first and foremost, take past due notices and threats to turn a debt over to a collection agency seriously. If you receive a demand for payment of a past due bill, contact the creditor to discuss payment options or discuss whether you believe the bill to be an error. Second, make sure you know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The FDCPA, was enacted to protect consumers from abusive collection tactics but you must know the laws to make sure you are not taken advantage of. Next, make sure to review your credit report on a regular basis. You are entitled to one free credit report per year so order a copy from each of the three major credit reporting agencies at freeannualcreditreport.com. Review your report to ensure its accuracy. A collection account can remain on your credit file for 7 years from the date it was sent to collection and will not be removed simply because you pay the balance. Also, if the debt is sold to a different collection agency, each collection agency can report the debt on its own behalf, further damaging your score. Lastly, make sure any communication with the collection agency gets put in writing and saved for your records.
If you believe you have been the victim of a violation of the FDCPA, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review.