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FTC to Debt Collectors: Play by the Rules!

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If you’re behind in paying your bills, you may be contacted by a debt collector — someone who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts on a regular basis, and companies that buy delinquent debts and then try to collect them.

You have the right to be treated fairly by debt collectors. Under federal law, they can’t use abusive, deceptive or unfair practices to collect from you. But not all debt collectors play by the rules. In fact, the FTC recently settled a case against Rumson, Bolling & Associates, a debt collection company that berated people with obscene and profane language, threatened them with physical harm, told their employers, co-workers, neighbors, and other people about their debts, and falsely threatened them with lawsuits, arrest, seizure of their property, or wage garnishment. All of these actions are against the law, and the FTC has seen to it that abusers pay dearly. The company is permanently banned from the debt collection business and has agreed to pay more than a million dollars in judgments.


It’s important to understand your rights if you’re ever contacted by a debt collector. And if you believe a collector has violated those rights, the FTC wants to hear about it.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


wish we had been able to use this last year -daughter threstened with evwerythiong and they collected two thousand dollars to supposedly keep her job and avoid garnishment -all a hoax we later learned but no way to retrieve anything


Debt collection agencies are utilized and contracted with the original company you owe a debt too.

You can notify the original company you owe & tell them in writing (as well as the debt collection agency) that you will only deal with the original company.

my bank has been levy and the collection company will not give me validation on the money I owe , because the business closed down

How can a creditor charge-off more than your balance owed?

How can the collection co. that bought the debt from the creditor show a different and much higher bal. due than was owed the creditor?

Some don't charge what they are suppose to in interest and that is what they are doing. My state's laws says that debt collectors can't charge interest until there is a judgement award. You go tell that to debt collectors and they will laugh at you. Another thing that you must do is if you are sued, look over the affidavit attached. Look for items that you would normally see on affidavits. If you live outside of New York and your affidavit came from New York, look for the Embossed Notary Seal that should be on the affidavit. New York requires that all legal documents that are filed outside of New York in Courthouses and municipalities have the New York Embossed Notary Seal. This seal cannot be duplicated to be filed in Courthouses so it has to be the original document filed. Only the Clerk of the Court may make a copy an attach it to the Summons. (Be sure to answer the Summons.) Another thing is that some debt collection servicers' affidavits are not written correctly and a Notary Public should never stamp their seal on a fraudulent affidavit. Going back to this Seal. If the New York Embossed Notary Seal does not appear on the affidavit attached to the Summons, the attorney who filed it has "entered fraud upon the court" right then.
One particular collection agency has done this countless times. Even the ones that have already been in court. Mine and all these others are fraud because they were filed out of the State of New York.
I have one on my credit report that has a lower balance wrote off. But then again it was so called written off twice. Once in 2010 and then right above a debt collector's name in 2011. How can a national bank write off the debt twice after other debt collectors have bought it? We will find out 3-22.

Had any complaints about Roanoke Gas? They've notoriously, with me & at least one other person, attempted to collect on ancient debts. I owed a debt that they received a judgement for in 2003, which was stated in a recent collection letter. It's been 10 years! Gimme a break, I could've bankrupted them and it'd be off in that amount of time! A judgement is supposed to remain on credit reports for 7 years, or so my belief, so I've called the collectors and dared them to send me another letter or call me, & happily left my ph #! The debt was legitimate-at the time...but how long can they keep digging up old sh**?

This is called zombie debt because they resurrecting a dead debit. Check your state laws, judgments can be 7-10 years depending on the state.

What is a new wife's recourse when debt collectors start calling her on new husbands old debts with ex wife?

how can we check if the debt collectors are legit? I got a call and the collector is telling me if I don't settle, I will have to go to court and it will be more costly. But I never received anything in the mail from them until I requested he do so. I just received the letter today and it looks like something I can do in my computer and to top it off it has an electronic signature its not signed. this really makes me nervous it may be a scam. I can't afford to give money away right now. what do I do?

Order a copy of your credit report. Find the debt that matches, work with the company listed on your report. There should be a name/address and usually a phone number.

What is the law on debt collectors blowing up a phone. Is it legal??? I have been told it's against the law

Tell them to stop contacting you. It's best to do it in writing so you have proof. Here's how. If they continue, file a complaint at

Are there specific rules for the Hardship Programs?
Because of loss of inome, I closed an account with
was current and not in default and requested it be
setup as an "Hardship" account with automatic payments. Now this company has reported me as a
"Paid Charged-Off Collection." This was never i
Collections, nor Charged-Off." Can they do this?

Please respond.

Before entering into a hardship program, it's a good idea to ask the company how the account will be reported to credit reporting agencies in the future. In this case, I'd recommend that you dispute the item with the credit reporting agency and with the business that reported the information. Here's how.

I received s letter saying the district court of Maryland entered and affidavit judgment inn favor of the plainitiff(collection agency)the defendant has unit june to respond. IS this a summons? I WROTE the court asking them to vacate the judgment because I DID NOT GET A SUMMONS, I also told him that I WAS ON disability. My request denied, and now they are trying to put a lien on my bank account. also the debt is 4 to 5 years old.

I have a debt with a credit card company who turned it to collections in 2007, the got a judgement against me and now I'm being charged 27% interest every month on a 2100.00 debt I now owe 4500.00 I called the credit card company they sent me to a collector they said had it so I called them they said another had it. I requested verification and it is the judgement papers. I tried to offer a settlement which was low but all I had they said no so I sent them a payment of 100.00 and said I will send payments of 50.00 on the account. My payment was returned to me and they said they don't agree with my terms. This is all I can afford and interest continues to accrue I don't understand how I can possibly ever get it paid off if they won't take my payments. I can't find anything on FTC or Fair debt collections about it so is it legal for them not to take the payments but keep charging interest? I filed a complaint with FTC and attny gen inMissouri but I'm not sure if anything will ever be done the company has 70+ complaints on MO Atnny gen website and F with better business bureau you would think someone would shut this company down. I am trying to repair my credit but they are holding me hostage any help would be appreciated.

I have been researching debt settlement companies and I spoke with a rep of a popular debt settlement company that stated if I got in a program a percentage of the fees would be taken out of the first months payment, then a smaller percentage out of the next months payment and so on. The info I have been reading states a company can't take out fees until they have settled at least one debt, so how can they do this. Are there any reputable debt settlement companies that adhere to all the rules?

How come when the original company turns you over to a debt collector, and then the debt collector turns it over to another then another and another.. so now there are 4 collection agencies on my credit report for the same debt.. how can i get the first 3 collection agencies off my repor or how come they can stay on my report for 7 yrs too?

A medical office used inappropreiate billing procedures to establish billing for a medical procedure. Prior to the medical procedure they were suppose to receive authorization from TriWest but instead listed our coverage as HMO instead of PPO. When TriWest refused to pay because prior authorization was not given for the medical procedure, the physicians office set me the bill for the entire amount and refused to set up or arrange a payment plan. Since I could not pay the amount in one payment and it took several months to clarify what happened and why TriWest refused to pay the bill, the physicians office referred the amount I owed to a local collection agency. H P Sears, the collection agency, sent me one payment arrangement with the amount due on the bottom section of the notice. On the top section of the notice the account is broken down as principle, interest and total. The bottom section contained the payment planed amount and all other related financial information. The collection agency required the bottom section to be returned with the planned payment amount they arranged. No other notifications have been received and recently the collection agency called asking about my payment to them. After the first call this month I received another call. About seven days later the collector called insisting I received a bill they sent out on the twenty-third. I never received the bill and suspect it is because weekend mail sorting by the US Post Office has been suspended or the collector never sent the notice. When the collector callled me this morning, the rationalization was they couldn't send out noticfication each month due to the cost of stamps, but insisted I go to their office to discuss the matter with them. This went on for several minutes to the point of harrasment and fictious ploys of financial durress on the company each time they had to send a notification the me. After the conversation on the phoine I read the only letter I received from the collection agency carefully and noticed there is no information about payment plans, no other information other than reference to state and federal laws, and how to contact the collection agency, What can I do to force the collection agency to send me a notice for the payment arrangement they set up so I know what their records reflect anmd since they established a payment plan without negotiating with me first is there anything I can do if the collection agency reports me to the credit agencies?

I would like to know what days of the week can a collection agency call and from what time to what time? I thought it was ONLY DURING business hours and ON business days. Please inform of these questions. Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

We get daily phone calls from "legal processors" saying they have legal documents to be served at our residence or place of employment. It's not from the same number and one caller shows Private Name, Private Number. They want us to call another number for more inform (which we font call). How do we stop this insanity! I've told them not to call us anymore, and thats ignored.

Got a ding on my credit report from HP sears. I have no idea what it is they're supposed to be "collecting". They've never contacted me and haven't returned my messages.

My husband and I were contacted by a collection agency in February 2016. The call came out of nowhere. They started out with letting my husband know that he would need to show up in a local county court to answer for a debt they were collecting for their client. They bullied and scared me into paying that day. It was a horrible experience for me....took me several weeks to get to the point where I could research what happened and why. I find out this was zombie debt. I even told the two people I talked to that I believed with all my heart that this "debt" they were trying to collect was discharged on a bankruptcy over 12 years ago. I paid $50 for a certified copy of that record, and yes it was on the list of creditors, but they did not like it when I brought that up. The man actually said he was looking at the bankruptcy, and that the amount was not there. It is there, so either he was not looking at the paperwork or lying to me. They use very real scare tactics and make you feel like you have no recourse but to pay. If I could go back in time, I would hang up and research, but I was scared. The worst part is there is no help for us. They seemed to stay within "legal" limits, and that in itself is sad, because I felt harassed, shamed, and lied to, by people who were out to get money that was discharged in a bankruptcy years ago. I knew that in my heart, but because I didn't have a copy of my bankruptcy papers in front of me, I couldn't prove it that day. I've learned a lot since this day, and mostly I've learned that "people" will do whatever they want and can to take what isn't theirs. This is a harmful thing that is going on, and I've contacted several lawyers, but I don't think there is enough money to be made for them to even try to get help for consumers or change this. It's sad but it's true. I learned a lot that day...not to believe these collection agency people, do research for yourself, and if you don't believe you owe something, hang up the phone and send them a letter. Don't let them bully you, harass you, scare you, etc. They are mean spirited, and I'm glad I don't have to make a living scaring people and being mean. It's a shame that society has been reduced to this level, but I won't be in denial that it is. It happens and it can happen again. I won't ever be treated like this again. I don't want anyone else to be treated like this either. There should be a better and more honest way to collect debts.

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