Debt collection companies routinely ignore regulations

By Marrero, Chamizo, Marcer Law, LP,

Debt collection companies in Florida are part of a $13.7 billion industry, but the regulations put into place to protect consumers from abuse and harassment are often ignored according to a report released on Jan. 12 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The federal agency sent surveys to 10,800 American consumers in 2014 and 2015, and the report is based on the 2,000 responses it received.

Debt collection companies are not permitted to call consumers after 9:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m., and they are also required to cease calling completely when consumers ask them to do so in writing. However, the CFPB report reveals that many companies pay no heed to these rules. About 40 percent of the survey respondents reported receiving early morning or late night calls, and only about one in four debt collection companies stopped calling after receiving written requests from consumers.

The CFPB report also paints a grim picture of debt collection data checking practices. Debt collectors call with the wrong figures or call the wrong person entirely more than half of the time according to the CFPB, but the agency’s solution to the widespread flouting of federal regulations appears to be more regulations. The report calls for a weekly limit on the number of debt collection calls that can be made concerning any given debt and a 30-day waiting period before debt collectors can call about the bills of a deceased debtor.

The gnawing stress caused by dealing with debt collectors on a daily basis is what prompts many individuals to consider filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but attorneys with experience in this area could point out that taking this path also offers the possibility of a financial fresh start. Attorneys could also explain the steps involved in filing for personal bankruptcy and how this form of debt relief differs from alternatives such as debt settlement plans.