When Bill Collectors Pay You
Since the national economy began to sharply
deteriorate in 2008, consumers naturally are having
a more difficult time in paying ordinary bills,
especially credit card charges.
This has led to an increase in high pressure tactics
by consumer collection agencies. Aggressive, often
belligerent phone calls can come at all times of the
day, and interrupt meals, visits from friends and
disrupt your daily routine.
Too often, debt collectors cross the boundaries of
what is lawful behavior.
Some make threats to tell employers or other about
your debt, or actually do so.
Some call so often that they border on criminal
Some will accuse you unfairly of criminal conduct.
Others will tell children who answer the phone “your
parents are in a lot of trouble and they better call
me,” as one debt collector in Florida recently did.
They often threaten to take all kinds of legal
action when they have no intention to do so.
(Sometimes debt collectors try to collect a debt
when the statute of limitations has expired.)
Both Congress and the state of Massachusetts have
enacted laws that protect consumers from the kind of
harassment that debt collectors use too often to
intimidate, and these laws give you the right to sue
Outrageous conduct by debt collectors has been in
the news lately. (In Indonesia, debt collectors
working for Citibank actually murdered a debtor. See
Huffington Post June 30, 2011.
The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating
debt collector agencies who seek to recover debts
from the next of kin of deceased customers. Abusive
practices directed at grieving spouse have been
Heirs have no personal responsibility to pay the
debts of deceased relatives but bill collectors have
been known to trick debtors into paying bills they
had no responsibility for.
The Fair Debt Collections Practice Act, a federal
law, and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act
have enabled debtors to bring claims against rogue
debt collectors. Lawyers who handle these claims,
such as the author, usually do so on a contingent
The important thing to remember is when bill
collectors behave badly, do not suffer in silence.
The law is on your side!
The author is a lawyer
with offices in Newton and Hull. In 1999,
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly named him “Lawyer of
the Year” for his civil rights work. Visit his
website at www.grossack.com