This map shows how each state's exemption laws protect debtors from having necessary household goods seized. Click image for full-size (source: NCLC)

In Vermont, Debt Collectors Can’t Seize Your Goats Or Bees, But Your Car May Be Up For Grabs

Every state has some level of protection for debtors so that they are able to continue living and working while repaying their debts. But the level of protection covers the spectrum from protecting reasonably priced homes, vehicles, and necessary goods, to protections so minimal that the debtors will likely remain in the red, unable to ever climb out of debt. [More]

4 Magical Words Debt Collectors Use To Open Your Pockets

4 Magical Words Debt Collectors Use To Open Your Pockets

Debt collection is all about mind games. NotSoDeepSouth blogged about the four magical words that he used to use as a debt collector that acted like a crowbar on people’s wallets, getting formerly relcacitrant people to empty out their pockets. [More]

What's My State's Statute Of Limitations On Debts?

What's My State's Statute Of Limitations On Debts?

One of the first thing you’ll want to check when you get a debt collection notice is the expiration date. No, it won’t be written on the top like a milk carton. But you can check to see when the debt is from. If it’s longer than your state’s statue of limitations on debt collections, they’re unlikely to successfully sue you. Those dates vary by state, so here’s a handy list that gets routinely updated. [More]

Debt Collection Firm Accused Of Setting Up Phony Courtroom

Debt Collection Firm Accused Of Setting Up Phony Courtroom

Call it “theater of the real.” A debt collection firm is accused of setting up a fake courtroom, complete with a raised “bench” and judge in black and other decorations and furniture, to trick and holding bogus hearings to extract payment from debtors. [More]

Govt. Notices Rise Of "Debtor's Prisons," Doesn't Like Them

Govt. Notices Rise Of "Debtor's Prisons," Doesn't Like Them

An increasing tool of choice for collection agencies is getting folks thrown in jail for missing “financial assessment hearings,” even when the folks had good reason – like moving and never getting the letter – or the validity of the debt is in dispute. In addition, collectors are requesting forfeited bail to pay off judgement, turning our local jails into de facto debtor’s prisons, and the police into deputized debt collection agents. Now regulators and officials are taking notice, and taking action to curb some of the worst abuses. [More]

PayPal Says Man Owes Nearly $300 For Dispute That He Won

PayPal Says Man Owes Nearly $300 For Dispute That He Won

Kentaro already went through a dispute resolution with PayPal for an HTC Droid Eris he sold on eBay. He says the reason for the dispute no longer exists, and anyway, he won and that was supposed to be the end of it. But now he owes $287, according to PayPal. [More]

Verizon Bill Collector Threatens To Blow Up Man's House

Verizon Bill Collector Threatens To Blow Up Man's House

A man in New Mexico is suing Verizon Wireless over a series of harassing phone calls made by Verizon bill collectors last year. The man, Al Burrows, says the calls were concerning a relative’s unpaid cellphone bill. When he hung up on one of them, the disconnected Verizon rep called back, said she knew where Burrows lived, and added, “I am gonna blow your mother fucking house up.” [More]

Judge Tells Debt Collection Firm To Pay Stranger $115 For Dragging Him To Court

Judge Tells Debt Collection Firm To Pay Stranger $115 For Dragging Him To Court

Last week, a Brooklyn judge ordered strongly suggested that the law firm of Pressler & Pressler, “one of the biggest in the collection industry,” pay a day’s worth of income to the man they falsely accused of owing an unpaid debt. To encourage the firm to do the right thing, Judge Noach Dear scheduled a sanctions hearing but told the firm’s lawyer, T. Andy Wang, that he might drop it if they pay up. [More]

Use The Debt "Snowflake" Method To Pay Off Debts

Use The Debt "Snowflake" Method To Pay Off Debts

You’ve probably heard of the debt snowball method used to pay off debts, well here’s the “debt snowflake method.” Basically what this guy does is apply every extra bit of money he gets, finds, or earns to paying off this debt. Money from yard sales and eBay, change under the couch, and any leftover funds at the end of the month not earmarked for future expenses, he keeps throwing each of these at paying down his debt. Every little bit helps!

Citibank Won't Accept The Extra Money You Sent To Payoff Your Student Loans

Citibank Won't Accept The Extra Money You Sent To Payoff Your Student Loans

We’re all about to see more money in our paychecks thanks to lower payroll taxes, but if you want to use the savings to payoff your student loans, you better act on the one day that Citibank will take your money. At least that’s what Citibank told reader Valori, who tried sending the bank a check with instructions to apply it towards the principal on her student loans. The bank instead applied it to her usual monthly payment and told her that the only way to pay down her principal was to “setup an automatic payment on the Citibank website to debit on the same day as [the] automatic payment is direct debited.” Does that seem easy to anyone?

Three Tips To Keep The Recession From Depressing Your Relationship

Three Tips To Keep The Recession From Depressing Your Relationship

Money can ruin relationships, but by talking honestly about finances with your significant other, you just might emerge from this depressing recession as a couple. Even if your finances are deteriorating, there are a few ways to keep your money problems from rotting your relationship.

IRS Fires Private Debt Collectors, Plans To Pursue Deadbeats On Its Own

IRS Fires Private Debt Collectors, Plans To Pursue Deadbeats On Its Own

The IRS has ended a controversial program that allowed private debt collectors to pursue individual debts owed to the government. The private debt collectors, described as “bounty hunters who collect taxes from vulnerable people for profit,” were allowed to keep 25% of any collected debts for themselves. Before we celebrate, let’s all take a moment to join Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa in thinking about those poor private debt collectors who no longer have jobs harassing and abusing people…

Ritz Camera Files For Bankruptcy

Ritz Camera Files For Bankruptcy

Ritz Camera, an occasional and colorful character on our blog (scam confessions! feedback bribery!) has just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Is Volkswagen Violating The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

Is Volkswagen Violating The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

Tim’s neighbor received a call from VW Credit asking her to walk across the street and leave a note on her neighbors’ front door and VW Bug asking them to call back their creditor. Calls like these are known as block parties, and they are a direct violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

AT&T Sends Bills To Collections Ten Days After They’re Mailed Out

AT&T Sends Bills To Collections Ten Days After They’re Mailed Out

Reader Tom wrote in to let us know that during a conversation with AT&T customer service, a representative told him that it is typical to send out collection notices ten days after the original bill is mailed. Factoring in two or three days for the bill to arrive, two or three days for the check to get back to AT&T, and a Sunday or two, that leaves three to five days for customers to pay their bills before the angry letters and phone calls begin.

Dell Has Called Every Day For The Past Eight Months… And I'm Not A Customer!

Dell Has Called Every Day For The Past Eight Months… And I'm Not A Customer!

Every day for the past eight months, Dell has called Kat to demand payment for a bill she doesn’t owe. Kat unfortunately inherited the phone number of a Dell debtor when she started a new job, something Dell would rather overlook—along with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Kat has tried calling, escalating, and having the debtor tell Dell to leave her alone. Dell continually assures her that the problem has been fixed. And then they call again.

An Overdue Library Book Could Scuttle Your Dreams Of Home Ownership

An Overdue Library Book Could Scuttle Your Dreams Of Home Ownership

That unreturned library book could threaten your credit score if it becomes a permanent fixture on your shelf. According to the New York Times, libraries are treating borrowed materials as debts and siccing debt collectors on borrowers who fail to pay longstanding late fines. The Queens Public Library has used Unique Management Services to collect over $11.4 million from delinquent borrowers, who may not realize that their unreturned books could eventually stand between them and a mortgage.

Michael Vick Sued For Not Paying Car Loans, Bank Repossesses Cars

Michael Vick Sued For Not Paying Car Loans, Bank Repossesses Cars

Vick signed loan agreements as the CFO of Divine Seven, which bought at least 130 vehicles, including many Kia Spectra and Ford Taurus cars, through 1st Source Bank loans, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in South Bend on Wednesday.