The Federal Trade Commission says that debt collectors make one billion contacts with consumers every year.
One billion contacts!
Most of those are phone calls that aggravate, harass and sometimes intimidate consumers, who wonder: How can I make this phone stop ringing?
“Pick it up and say to the person on the other end of the line: Stop calling me!” said Ira Rheingold, an attorney and the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA).
“But before you hang up, get their name and address, then sit down and write a letter telling them not to call you. Send it by certified mail, return receipt requested so you have a record of this if it keeps going.
“Knowing the debt collection industry, it probably will.”
Debt collection is a $13.7 billion a year industry. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), one in three consumers – more than 70 million people! – were contacted by a creditor or debt collector in the past year. The CFPB says that 250,000 debt collection complaints have been filed since 2011, about 88,000 of them in 2016 alone.
Rheingold chuckles at those numbers. The NACA is an organization of more than 1,700 attorneys who represent consumers in disputes with businesses and the biggest source of complaints deals with debt collectors.
“Most of the complaints are from consumers who are being harassed for debt they don’t owe,” said Rheingold, who made a one-hour appearance on CSPAN to discuss problems with debt collectors. “In a lot of cases, the wrong person is being harassed or even sued for the wrong amount of debt and the collection agencies are using very limited information to bring those cases.”