I ran into an article the other day that just about made my blood boil. It reported about a debt collector that had contacted this particular debtor multiple times in a threatening fashion. He then contacted third parties and attempted to collect the debt. But it doesn’t end there. This Medicredit collector called the debtor’s mother, told her of the outstanding debt, threatened to take money out of her account and take her business license.
It was illegal
Just about everything this collector did or threatened to do is illegal according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that was passed by Congress several years ago. For example, a collector is not allowed to call a person several times a day and is not allowed to contact any third parties about a person’s debt. And, of course, no collector can take money out of someone’s bank account.
Did you know that about 30 million Americans have debt that could be subject to collection? Of this 30 million, many say that they do not even owe the debt that has been ascribed to them. This is only one of the many complaints that have been filed about debt collectors. As a result of these many complaints, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) published a new rule recently that gives itself the power to supervise the larger debt collection agencies. Richard Cordray, who is the director of the CFPB, has said that the agency is going to do everything it can to see that people are treated more fairly.
The CFPB currently takes complaints about credit-reporting agencies and will now be doing the same thing with the big debt collection agencies. It will be both gathering information and trying to help individual consumers who have problems. The Bureau has indicated it will continue its efforts to enforce the law on debt collectors but now will also be supervising them more closely.
What you can do
The CFPB has said that it wants to hear from people about problems that they are having in the financial marketplace – whether it’s with credit reporting bureaus or debt collectors. So, if you are having a problem with one of the two, you can go to ConsumerFinance.gov and file a complaint or share your story.
The problem with the credit reporting agencies
I’m sure that the three credit reporting agencies – Trans Union, Experian and Equifax – try to do the best job possible of gathering information about your credit and reporting it fairly. However, the information that these agencies gather come in from companies, some of whom are much more reliable than others. Plus, the three agencies handle and process such a huge amount of information on hundreds of millions of Americans that they can make mistakes.
Monitor your credit reports
This is why it’s so important that you monitor your credit reports on a regular basis. You can get your reports free once a year from www.freeannualcreditreport.com. You can also get your reports free by contacting the individual credit reporting bureaus. Some people choose to get one report from each of the bureaus every three months so that, in effect, they always have up-to-date information.
If you discover bad information
If you do find false or erroneous information on one of your credit reports, you can request that it be removed. The agency must then contact whichever company provided the information and ask for proof that what it reported was correct. If the company fails to respond within 30 days, the credit bureau must remove that listing from your credit report notify you that it has done so.