In the midst of this economic recession (or depression) the F.T.C. has been cracking down on debt collectors who “harass consumers for money they may not even be legally obligated to pay.” This is good news for consumers who have found themselves for whatever reason unable to pay their debts in this economy.
In the second-largest penalty ever levied on a debt collector, the F.T.C. said that Asset Acceptance, one of the nation’s largest debt collection companies, had agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty to settle charges that the company deceived consumers when trying to collect old debts.
The F.T.C. has “pursued eight cases related to debt collection companies over the last two years.” The recent settlement with Asset Acceptance “is part of a broader effort to patrol the industry, agency officials said.”
Consumer complaints about debt collection companies consistently rank as the second-highest category among all complaints at the agency, behind identity theft. But in 2010, complaints jumped 17 percent to 140,036, which represented 11 percent of all complaints in the commission’s database, up from 119,540, or about 9 percent of complaints, in 2009.
It is noted in the NY Times article about this issue that “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the F.T.C. now share enforcement authority for debt collection companies, though the new bureau has a power that the F.T.C. did not: it can write new rules for debt collectors.”
If you are being harassed by debt collectors who use nefarious means do not hesitate to contact the F.T.C. and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file complaints. These debt collectors who strong arm consumers with financial problems will not be stopped unless complaints are filed.