While specific regulations are in place that debt collectors must adhere to, many in the 13.7 billion dollar industry simply refuse to play by the rules.
One of the most important rules involves an obligation to cease contact upon request of the consumer. Yet, those seemingly simple requests fall on deaf ears. A growing number of consumers continue to be threatened and harassed.
Troubling Trends In Debt Collection Abuses
In 2014 and 2015, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) mailed over 10,800 surveys to consumers and received approximately 2,000 responses. The recently released report revealed troubling trends:
- Seventy-five percent of consumers who have asked for debt collection calls to stop still endure continuously ringing phones
- Fifty percent of those consumers received calls about an overdue or unpaid bill for wrong amounts or debts that do not belong to them.
- One-third of consumers reported that their telephones rang at all hours, in spite of the rule banning debt collectors from calling before 8 am and after 9 pm
The results of the survey and other anecdotal evidence have led to renewed efforts to ensure that consumers receive fair, decent and respectful treatment. Clean up starts with reviewing and revising existing regulations while holding debt collectors accountable with harsher penalties.
A Reputation In Freefall
The CFPB also reports that debt collection is currently the most frequent topic of complaints received by them. In response, the bureau has brought more than 25 cases against firms accused of using deceptive or abusive practices, resulting in 300 million dollars returned to consumers.
Billions of dollars in revenue for the debt collection industry has a price. Consumers unfairly targeted fear answering their own phones. The image of collection agencies that follow the rules is being tarnished by association.