(September 25, 2012)—The Better Business Bureau has several tips for dealing with a collection agency and also wants to remind citizens of their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The BBB says an increase in complaints over the last month has prompted them to provide the information.
According to the organization, the most common complaints against collection agencies are that debt collectors threatened, did not provide adequate proof of the debt when requested and continuously harassed consumers after being told not to.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are prohibited from certain methods of collecting debt, including harassing customers or using false statements.
False statements include threatening that the consumer will be arrested if they don’t pay, that their property or wages will be seized or that the collection agencies have attorneys or government representatives.
Also, debt collectors can only contact someone in person, by mail, fax or telephone but only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
They must stop contacting you if you write a letter to the collector telling them to stop.
According to the BBB, a collection agency must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe, the name of the creditor to whom you owe and what action to take if you do not believe you owe the money, within 5 days of initial contact.
Legally, collection agencies cannot contact you if you send them a letter stating you do not owe the money if it is sent within 30 days after receiving their written notice, a BBB spokesperson said.
Steps to take if you receive a call from a debt collector include requesting written proof, researching the collector, not ignoring errors, checking for identity theft, and reporting any problems.
The BBB advises that consumers not provide any personal or financial information until the validity of the debt is confirmed.
To report any issues, contact the Better Business Bureau, the Texas Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission.