If a debt collector is harassing you, do not underestimate the power of your complaint to make a difference. Thanks to reports of debt collection violations by the largest debt collector in the world, the FTC has slapped Expert Global Solutions with a $3.5 million penalty and a list of restrictions it must follow…or else.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) lays out a list of what are illegal practices among debt collectors. Though Expert Global Solutions admitted no guilt in the agreement (nor denied it), the FTC alleges that the company was guilty of a number of violations. USA Today reports that, in addition to paying the $3.5 million fine, Expert Global Solutions must:
- Stop falsely claiming that they will not call a number to collect a debt
- Not harass or abuse a person while trying to collect a debt
- Not contact third parties about a person’s debt, including relatives or friends
- Not call a person’s workplace if it’s prohibited by employer
- Not leave voicemails that mention the consumer’s name or debt
- Cease communications if a person has requested no further contact
- Record at least 75% of all their debt collection calls beginning one year after the date of the order, and retain the recordings for 90 days after they are made
- Either investigate the validity of a disputed debt or close the account and discontinue debt collection practices
So if debt collectors are violating these or any other prohibited practices outlined in the FDCPA, take the time to file a complaint with the FTC, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). And even if debt collectors seem to be following the letter of the law, you can and should send them a certified validation debt letter as soon as you receive initial communication from a collection agency. Once an original creditor sells a debt, it may pass through numerous debt collectors, likely watering down the documentation they need to prove debt ownership. Bottom line, if they cannot provide debt validation, you are not legally obligated to pay.