When most people sign up for a credit card they do so intending on making timely payments. But things happen. Job loss. Shifting priorities. People find themselves facing more and more credit card debt and getting more and more collection calls. In part one of this series, we’ll explore how far some collectors are willing to go, and in part two we’ll examine why.

A Newsweek report shares some collectors’ stories of their work in the industry. They report that if a person can’t pay their bill the second they call many collectors are not afraid to hit below the belt. In fact many collectors and former collectors have revealed that their managers encouraged them to do “whatever it takes” — whether it is legally considered creditor harassment or not. Some violations include repeated calling to the point of harassing after a debtor has hung up, revealing information about debts to family members and neighbors and even threatening immigrants with deportation.

Many of the collectors do not want to be doing what they do for a living, but in a struggling economy it is the only job many of them can get — a fact that collection managers are exploiting as well. Of course, management is under a lot of pressure, too. Where collectors once collected an average of 30 cents for each dollar of debt, that number has decreased to 20 cents.

But none of that means that those with debts deserve creditor harassment. If it feels like creditors are crossing the line, there’s a good chance they are. Consumers have rights. While many creditors will try and make them feel powerless, they have more power than they think. Credit card debt is often bought by third party creditors for pennies on the dollar. This knowledge alone can help you pay down debt and reduce creditor harassment.

Source

Newsweek, The Daily Beast: “America’s Abusive Debt Collectors,” Gary Rivlin, Jan. 1, 2012