Debt collectors based in Mississippi have gone on the defense to avoid having to pay a large settlement to consumers. They have been up against the Federal Trade Commission, and they are not happy with the outcome of the trial. The have been found guilty and now must pay up.
The Federal Trade Commission has charged a debt buyer and a debt collection law firm for misleading the consumers they were in contact with and falsely threatening them with lawsuits. This violated the FTC Act and their Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. They apparently misleadingly charged the consumers a fee for paying over the phone. They led the consumers to believe there was no way to avoid this fee when in reality those who paid by mail or online were able to avoid the fee which means that these companies were lying to the consumers.
The FTC also says that they broke laws by falsely threatening to sue the consumer when they were unable to pay right away. This is something that these companies cannot do; they do not have the right to sue you. Keep that in mind the next time a debt collector calls you, if they threaten to sue you, they are breaking the law. The law states that they are not allowed to use false or deceptive ways to get you to pay your bill.
The terms of the projected settlement says that they will pay the consumers that were involved in this, portions of nearly $800,000 in restitution. This is money that the consumer can then use to turn around and pay off their bills. These companies made a mistake that is costing them big, but will in turn benefit the consumer that they were harassing to begin with.
We can all learn from this. No one wants to have a bill turned over to a collection agency. We try our best to pay them before that happens. However, there are times where it is just unavoidable. Learn from what happened in this case. If you get threatened and harassed report it immediately. It is not okay for these companies to treat you like this. Yes, their job is contact you, and try to get you to pay the bill, however they are not allowed to treat you poorly or threaten you with lawsuits. Know your rights and you can protect yourself.