It is reported that approximately 70 million American consumers, including some in Ohio, have unpaid debts. Over 6,000 debt collection agencies nationwide are tasked with collecting these past-due amounts, and many have made themselves guilty of harassment. It is not uncommon for debt collectors to be abusive, and a list of recently proposed rules may protect consumers about some of their aggressive tactics.
Consumers nationwide, including in Ohio, are protected against the abuse and harassment by creditors or their collection agents. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says nobody may be harassed, oppressed or abused by debt collectors. Repetitive phone calls, profane or obscene language and threats of any kind are not allowed. Creditors or their agents must identify themselves when they make collection phone calls.
Ohio consumers with past-due debts may have to endure many associated hardships. Even in cases in which payment agreements have been reached with creditors, debt collectors may become nuisances. In many cases, creditor harassment is committed by non-licensed companies that have no right to call consumers, and the calls often involve nonexistent debts.
Ohio consumers who are overwhelmed by debts may experience harassment by creditors or debt collection agencies. Although there are laws to protect consumers against unfair debt collection, the practice remains prevalent. Not all victims of such harassment know that they may take legal action against companies that unfairly hound them.
Ohio residents may be concerned about what will happen to their debts upon their deaths. Will their surviving family members be held responsible and be exposed to creditor harassment? There is no single answer to this question, because the type of debt and the existence of a co-signer will determine what happens to it.
Debt collectors will likely harass consumers in Ohio who are overwhelmed by debt and not able to make their debt payments on time. However, even if the consumers have not consulted with a bankruptcy attorney or filed for bankruptcy, they have rights. There are numerous laws that protect debtors against creditor harassment.
The Federal Trade Commission protects consumers against harassment by debt collection companies, here in Ohio and across the country. The agency recently took action against four companies that engaged in deceptive methods to collect debts that were, in some cases, nonexistent. A typical tactic of a debt collector involves intimidation, which can come in many forms.
New rules were announced last year for the manner in which the three main credit reporting agencies (CRAs) will handle unpaid medical debts. The CRAs are still in the process of implementing the new rules, and the overhauling of their practices will reportedly continue through 2017. One of the most significant changes is the fact that consumers nationwide, including here in Ohio, will have 180 days to resolve unpaid medical debts before it will be shown on their credit reports, and before it is handed over for debt collection.
Federal and Ohio laws against abusive debt collection practices have been in place for long enough that you might think that anyone tempted to engage in such activity would be deterred by them, but as recent news events demonstrate such a belief would be wishful thinking. In fact, the problem remains serious enough that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has teamed up with both state and local law enforcement agencies in Ohio and elsewhere to combat it under the aegis of "Operation Collection Protection."
Debts, creditors and collection agencies have one thing in common: ignoring them is not a sound strategy to make them go away. A frustrated creditor may turn to a collection agency; and a frustrated collection agency may turn to litigation in an attempt to make you pay a debt. Sometimes you may receive a warning that a lawsuit is imminent, or sometimes your first inkling of it may be when you are served with a summons and complaint. Regardless of how you discover that you are being sued over a debt, there are some things that you need to take into account in order to deal with it properly.