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Tough Times Projected for Debt Collectors

Written by: Kristy Welsh

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - 06/21/10)  After a long history of abuses within the debt collection industry, collectors who violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), are paying the piper with significant government fines and numerous consumer lawsuits, says Kristy Welsh.

The FDCPA was created in 1978 to protect consumers from unlawful debt collection practices. These include: false or deceptive threats of garnishment, arrest, and legal action; frequent, harassing, threatening, and abusive calls; and unauthorized withdrawals from consumers' bank accounts.

Welsh cites two recent examples of civil penalties for FDCPA violations:

  • In January 2010, the FTC issued fines of $375,000 and $300,000, respectively, on Albert S. Bastian and Edward Hurt, who oversaw the Academy Collection Service, Inc. Las Vegas collection center. The parent company and its owner, Keith Dickstein, were previously hit with a $2.25 million fine in 2008.
  • In March of this year, the FTC imposed a $1.1 million civil fine on Credit Bureau Collection Services, and two of its officers, Larry Ebert and Brian Striker.

In addition to actions initiated by the FTC, consumers are taking matters into their own hands. In 2009, 8,287 federal lawsuits against debt collectors were filed citing violations of the FDCPA. It looks like 2009 total will easily be beaten as current 2010 figures stand at 4,518 total lawsuits filed through May 31, 2010 according to WebRecon, a website which tracks civil suits in the collection industry.

"Consumers are fed up and getting more and more educated about their rights," says Welsh, who has run a discussion board since 2000 devoted to debt collection lawsuits. "Maybe if more people would act, the abuses would come to an end." Ms. Welsh is the author of an ebook covering the filing of lawsuits against debt collectors who engage in abusive or deceptive practices.

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