The nation’s economic woes make debt collection a topic du jour, but while there are some good bits mixed into the Washington Post’s article, “When Debt Collectors Disrupt Dinner,” it probably should have been titled “What Debt Collectors Would Like You To Say And Do When They Call About The Credit Card.” Read it with a shaker of salt. Read on for the good, the bad, and the lazy reporting, plus what you should actually to protect and exercise your rights as a debtor…
There are lots of good ways to escalate your complaints. Going to the store, dousing yourself with lighter fluid and setting yourself on fire is not one of them. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what one Newark, NJ man did after becoming frustrated with the amount of late payment notices and collection calls he was receiving from Rent-A-Center.
How A Forgotten Blockbuster Video Caused A 2 1/2 Year Battle With Discover Card And Collection Agencies
“Universal Default” is when your credit card company adjusts the terms of your loan because you “defaulted” with another company. In reader P.’s case the “default” was a Blockbuster video that his friend forgot to return. Discover Card took this opportunity to double P.’s interest rate. When he tried to fight it by closing his account, it launched him into a 2 1/2 year legal battle with Discover, a collection agency, and now the credit bureaus.
Some debt collectors are mighty persistent.
Indiana broke its own record for computer security breaches last month, when a server containing personal data on 700,000 people was stolen from the offices of Central Collection Bureau, a debt collection agency. The stolen data included names, personal billing information, last known addresses, and social security numbers of people who hold delinquent accounts with a variety of companies, including utilities and hospitals. The company said the server was behind “three locked doors” and “was protected by two passwords, but was not encrypted.”
Verizon is finally installing FiOS in my area. But I’ll never use it. I’ll never sign up for another Verizon account in my life, and I’m encouraging my parents to change to a different service when their Verizon cell contracts end soon. Over the course of eight months, I’ve become completely appalled at the horrible customer service I’ve gotten from that company.
In what BusinessWeek calls “financial Night of the Living Dead” credit card companies are refusing to stop reporting legally discharged debt to credit reporting agencies—illegally forcing consumers to pay debts that they no longer owe in order to get approved for mortgages.
The Midlothian, IL Chief of Police thinks it’s appropriate for his officers to help local businesses collect private debts. Midlothian’s local mechanic, Merlin’s Muffler and Brake, performed $500 of work for Angela Proctor, who paid back all but $108 before falling into financial trouble. From The Star:
Brian writes us, enraged at Popular Science for sending him to a debt collector in an attempt to get him to renew his subscription. We were unsurprised to learn that Brian had received a notice from the “National Credit Audit Corporation” of lovely Peoria, IL.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act starts out this way:
There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors. Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy.
One of the things debt collection leads to that is missing to the FDCPA’s introduction is this: suicide.
The FDSL just sent me a loan cancellation letter. They have decided that they will only take federal loans now to consolidate and Sallie Mae is primarily a private lender, and that is what they report my loan as. What the difference between a federal guaranteed loan and what they consider a federal loan through a private company is beyond me.
Maxed Out, a documentary about the credit card industry, is opening today in select cities (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington DC, Seattle, and Austin) and next week in a few more (Chicago, Boston, and Minneapolis).
I was hoping that I could get my interest rate down and also my monthly payments down considerably. Not a chance. They even get belligerent if you dare trying to make payment arrangements. I even tried to send $600 one month hoping they would take it in good faith and they just sent it back. It’s either payment in full, or nothing so they can charge you late fees.
Does anyone out there have some advice for this guy? .—MEGHANN MARCO
Reader Maxwell writes in after having been served with a collection notice from a magazine that he’s never subscribed to. Did he piss off a 8th grader, or what?
Not all people whose accounts are sold to debt collectors are cheats and scalawags. Sometimes they’re just people who made a mistake somewhere… or sometimes the debt isn’t even valid