Dealing with debt collections can be scary, especially if you’ve never experienced the stress of letting a credit account go delinquent. Debt collectors come with a variety of outlooks on how they should treat consumers in their efforts to collect a debt. Many are polite, professional, and communicate clearly all options available to you. Many are not so polite, not so professional, and don’t communicate options very well at all.
All debt collectors, however, are subject to restrictions listed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that requires them to behave in above-board practices when attempting to collect a debt. While many collection agencies adhere to these requirements strictly, there are some debt collectors that seem to walk the line between above and below the board.
Transworld Systems is one such company. Besides the countless complaints about Transworld over the past decade, this company has found itself butting heads with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC ended up issuing a fine to Transworld Systems parent company, Expert Global Solutions, in the amount of 3.2 million dollars.
The premise behind the fine was that Transworld was giving personal consumer information out to third parties that were not one of the credit bureaus, harassing consumers over the phone, and ignoring consumer account validation requests, all of which are prohibited under the FDCPA.
The FDCPA was passed in September of 1977 in an effort to provide more protection for consumers against unfair debt collection practices. Since debtors prison was no longer an option by the 20th century, the practice of harassing and threatening consumers in an attempt to collect debt became quite common up to this point.
Since the passing of the FDCPA, those types of practices have subsided to a degree, but violations still occur on a consistent basis, and complaints are still being made against a variety of debt collectors today. While some complaint is expected, especially when dealing with such a stressful personal problem as debt collection, many of these complaints can be substantiated by the language of the FDCPA.
Under the FDCPA consumers are protected from a variety of predatory practices by collectors. Violations of these practices are prosecutable under the law.
Consumers cannot receive robocalls or unsolicited texts on their phones by debt collectors. They cannot be subject to vulgar, offensive, or derogatory language. They cannot be sent mail that is outwardly indicative that the collection agency is attempting to collect a debt, or contain any information on the envelope that would be embarrassing for the consumer. Debt collectors cannot send postcards. Debt collectors may not call repeatedly or continuously.
Collectors may not threaten a consumer with violence. They may not threaten to take any action they don’t intend to, are not capable of taking, or don’t have the authorization to take. They may not misrepresent themselves as law enforcement, a government agency, or a legal firm if they are not.
Consumers cannot be contacted at work once the consumer has indicated to the collection agency that they wish not to be. Debt collectors cannot call consumers after reasonable waking hours (before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.) or after hours appropriate to someone working an alternative work schedule.
You have the right to request Debt Validation. Once you’ve made the request, the debt collector is legally obligated to send a debt validation to you in writing. This document contains all of the details of the debt for which the collection agency is pursuing you. If there are any inaccuracies or misrepresentations on this validation you have the right to dispute it.
Debt collectors cannot agree to do one thing and then do the other. If they make a promise to clear your debt line entry from its report to the credit bureaus in exchange for the settlement of the debt, then they must do so. Unless you get it in writing, however, you have no proof that the agreement was ever made.
Dealing with Debt Collectors Like Transworld Systems
Despite the protections set forth by the FDCPA, violations still occur. Whether a debt collector is aware of the violations and fully engaged in the unlawful practice or an honest mistake has occurred, you’ll need to make sure you are protecting your rights.
Put Everything In Writing
Fully record all of your correspondence with the debt collector and require the collector to only communicate with you in writing. If you request a Debt Validation report, request it in writing. If you agree upon a payment settlement agreement in exchange for the removal of the debt, make sure that correspondence is in writing. Discuss nothing over the phone. Having all correspondence in writing means you can prove everything you say about your experience with the debt collector.
Credit Report Disputes
Always make a Request for Validation with any new collector that comes knocking on your door within thirty days of the initial correspondence. If you do find inaccuracies, you’ll need to file a credit report dispute with each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, in an effort to resolve the mistake or remove the credit line completely from your report.
Statute of Limitations
All debt has a certain number of years before it falls off your credit report. Bankruptcies last 7 to 10 years, while foreclosures last 7 years. Some debt collectors will often engage in unscrupulous practices in order to keep your account alive, as the statute of limitations begins with the last contact with the consumer. Be aware of the statute of limitations on your debt, but don’t ignore debt that can be civically litigated against you.
If you are suffering from outstanding debt that’s gone to collections, understand your rights and collector obligations under the FDCPA before negotiating with any debt collector. Many collectors will operate in somewhat of a gray area legally to get you to pay your debt. Knowing exactly what they are and are not allowed to do will help you keep them accountable for their actions.
If you are being contacted by Transworld Systems, are in debt, or need help rebuilding your credit, The Phenix Group is here to help. We have been helping individuals fix their credit scores and achieve financial security for years through our attorney-engaged credit repair process. Get in touch with us today at (682) 710-2011 for a free consultation!