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How To Report a Debt Collection Agency

What to do if you believe a debt collector has broken the law.

Documents

Even before actually filing a report, get documentation of the agency's behavior. Hopefully, you will have kept copies of everything they sent you and you sent them. This is particularly important for the cease and desist letter, wherein you told them not to continue contacting you. This is a large part of why written communication is preferable for both the debtor and legitimate collection agencies.

If they have been harassing you by phone, first make certain that you have told them not to. By this time, you should certainly be keeping documentation of everything you do, and keep a copy of that letter. If it is possible, hook up a recorder to your phone that will enable you to record conversations when they call you. This is especially important if the agency has been making illegal claims-using obscenity, threats, misrepresent your debt, and the like. If recording the contact is not an option, request a copy of your phone records from your phone company. These can provide documentation as to who phoned you, when, and for how long.

Attorney General

The first place to contact regarding an agency in violation is your state Attorney General office. In addition to being important for documentation purposes-even if no legal action is taken the complaint will still be on file-debt collection laws vary from state to state. The Attorney General's office can help explain your state laws and give you help as to what to do next.

FTC

The Federal Trade Commission is created and designed with the intent of protecting citizens from businesses in violation of national laws. Any problems with a collection agency should be reported to them immediately. Among other things, the FTC compiles a database of complaints, so even without legal action, there will be documentation of the agency's complaints. This will also help you find out if they have prior complaints, which may help in a legal case. They can also provide you with advice on how to stop and prevent harassment.

Legal action

American citizens have a right to sue a collection agency for one year after the legal violation was committed. Agencies can be sued in state court, federal court, or both, depending on which laws have been broken. Damages and additional payment can be recovered, as can court costs.
As a final note, all of the laws specifically stated in this article are federal, legal across the nation. State laws vary, and can be considerably stricter (but not laxer).

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