Thursday, July 28, 2005

I owe, I owe, or maybe I don't...

I'm not going to rip on all debt collectors, I know a few and they are just doing their job to collect money that is really owed that some of us don't cooperate on at times.

That said, the above linked Washington Post article about the new type of debt collector that buys old debt that is not even sueable anymore and harrasses people I take issue with. If they want to buy the lists and follow the law that's fine. I've had personal experience with one of these silly companies who decided someone with a name close to ours was living at our house and was calling and sending bills for some company we had never heard of. Complaints regarding bill collection issues has risen from 13,950 in 2000 to 58,687 last year. Complaints about third-party debt collectors accounted for close to one in six of all FTC complaints last year, up from 9.5 percent in 2000.

Some important advice buried in the article is NEVER give your checking or credit card information to these people over the phone. Sure it may be easier to just agree to make a payment over the phone and get them off your back but there has been huge increase in complaints over unauthorized payments. May take some more work to send off a money order but it will give you the peace of mind of knowing they do not have access to your account numbers. (I will add as a semi unrelated topic here never ever ever order from from Zooba book club they will try to bill you until the day you die)

Another thing worth pointing out is "zombie debt," those unpaid bills that are so old the statute of limitations in which a creditor can sue to recover the debt has expired. It's not illegal to try to collect this debt. However, federal rules make it illegal to sue or even threaten to sue to collect it.

The article contains more information and a few debt "horror" stories.

Of course this relates to the deeper issue of the growing amount of consumer debt, since companies that are forced to write off bad debt do pass that along as price increases. If there was not so much bad debt out there than companies would not exist to purchase these old debts. It's obvious they are making profits on it else they would not exist.

So, if you are a debtor or a collector? Play nice and follow the rules.


No comments: