"Debt collectors are like me and you"
February 23, 2016 3:36 PM   Subscribe

ACA International is a national trade group for collection agencies, debt buyers, and third-party debt collectors. This is their legislative tool kit, including talking points. The ACA scored a recent victory in the Wisconsin state legislature, which voted this week to ease lawsuits by third-party collectors against Wisconsin residents alleged to be in debt.
posted by escabeche (25 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
So the scummy Wisconsin legislature made it even easier for scummy debt collectors to sketchily and cheaply buy up long discharged debt and attempt to collect by any means possible? Scummy Scott Walker strikes again.

I found this pro-debt collector quote from the linked article by a University of Wisconsin business professor named James Johannes to be particularly galling.

“This bill is good for all consumers except those who would use loopholes to escape paying their debts, and rewards responsible borrowers by lowering their cost of credit.”

Unlike corporations and big monied interests who use every conceivable loophole to walk away from bad business debt and mortgages? Please. Most people in dire financial straits were put there via a catastrophic event, such as illness, medical bills, the loss of a job, divorce, death of a spouse, and the like. I doubt many borrowers go into debt looking for loopholes to not repay.
posted by bawanaal at 4:42 PM on February 23, 2016 [29 favorites]


Bring me my whip, this temple is full of rats
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:43 PM on February 23, 2016 [13 favorites]


Worse, these debt collectors actively try to trick people into going into debt. I recall credit card lobbyists fighting tooth and nail against legislation requiring their bills to state how long it'd take to pay off the debt making the minimum payment.

As an aside, any real micro-payment system like Taler or whatever works by not using debt and therefore not employing debt collectors. It's these jerks who give visa, banks, etc. the legitimacy to extract so much from all our financial transactions. You do pay the fees they help create even if you never carry a balance!
posted by jeffburdges at 4:52 PM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wonder how much debt collection call centre staff earn. They're probably ringing the person at the fucking desk next to them.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:22 PM on February 23, 2016 [12 favorites]


I wonder how much debt collection call centre staff earn. They're probably ringing the person at the fucking desk next to them.

I bet a lot of them are either prisoners or ex-cons. It's not the kind of job anyone with options would want to do.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:27 PM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


My phone number was someone's that defaulted on all kinds of things. I get a lot of calls for April. They are sometimes polite, and I have a spiel memorized: "This is no longer April's phone. Can you please remove this number from your database and never call it again?" Responses to this vary from denial: "Are you sure you're not April?" To which I ask, "Do I sound like an April to you?" To inquiry: "Do you know where we can find April?" Um, no? To indignant: "Are you April's husband?"

I used to be somewhat polite knowing these people have jobs to do, but a stopped. I've had this line for 3 years now! I even get the occasional threat. I once gave my speech and hung up. Immediately I get a ring back. "IF YOU HANG UP ON ME AGAIN I WILL CALL EVERY 10 MINUTES ALL NIGHT LONG!" To which I replied, "I've already told you this is not April's number, and I instructed you to not call me again. If you do so I'll sue. I would be happy to give you my lawyer's number if you want to discuss this with him," and then I hung up. He didn't call back, but I really really wanted him to.

My bestest and favoritest trick if you have an iPhone:

Create a contact called "Do NOT Answer." Give it a customer ringtone of none. Now, whenever you get a cal you don't ever want to hear from again, tap it, "Add number to contact." Boom! You never ever get called again. Now, to make this a power use tip, go into your settings and block this contact. One tap blocking.

I have over 100 numbers in my blocked contact (thanks April!).

Life is so much better.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:28 PM on February 23, 2016 [29 favorites]


Now, whenever you get a cal you don't ever want to hear from again, tap it, "Add number to contact."

Or, if you're on iOS 7 or later, scroll a little further down and choose "Block this caller".
posted by zamboni at 5:49 PM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


I wonder if there's similar ALEC model legislation. I wouldn't be surprised, nor would I be surprised to see similar bills pop up in other states.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:52 PM on February 23, 2016


I don't actually robocall your number multiple time a day, looking for JERRY SKINNER...
posted by Windopaene at 5:54 PM on February 23, 2016


There are some percentage of people who are basically scam artists and deserve to be hounded by debt collectors, but most people I know with bad debt are there because very ordinary Shit Happens all the time, and the reality is that most solvent people are a very thin sliver from being there as well.

We need much better protections on the front end so that people don't fall into usurious debt, and on the back end so that when it does happen people are treated with dignity and with the full protections of the law.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:06 PM on February 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


There are some percentage of people who are basically scam artists and deserve to be hounded by debt collectors...

Certainly there is a percentage of folks in debt that are basically scammers; but there is a larger percentage of debt collectors that are basically scammers.
posted by el io at 6:08 PM on February 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


Larger in percentage AND in pure number by multiples.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:32 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen: The script goes a little something like this...

Me: Who are you trying to call?
them: randomname
Me: I do not know that person. Please give me the legal name, tax ID, and mailing address of the company you work for.
them: blah blah blah
Me: Remove this number from your database. I have received #NUMBER of calls from this telephone number attempting to collect a debt from a person I do not have any knowledge of whatsoever. Each time, I have indicated as much. Any further attempts to communicate with me I will consider harassment and an attempt to defraud me, both of which I will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law in all pertinent jurisdictions.


If however, they are calling for you, the answer goes like this:

What is your legal company name, tax ID, and mailing address?
My address is #YOUR ADDRESS. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681, You have 30 days to provide me in writing of proof of any debt I may owe. Should you fail to do so, I will consider any attempts to communicate with me after 30 days from this date as harassment and attempted fraud, which I will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law in all pertinent jurisdictions. Additionally, should you attempt to transfer this account to any other company or organization, I will consider you a party to and equally liable for whatever actions they may take.
Thank you.


It works wonders.
posted by Freen at 6:37 PM on February 23, 2016 [51 favorites]


It's important to log these interactions. There are substantial penalties for this sort of harassment. The only way they are effective is if we enforce them ourselves. Log it and should they continue to call, contact your state's Attorney General's office.
posted by Freen at 6:40 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


The linked talking points explain that providing the debt-holder with written documentation of their debt would be liable to "confuse" them, and so this documentation shouldn't be mandated.
posted by escabeche at 6:45 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Holding my breath for my credit card bills to go down a bit because of this.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:50 PM on February 23, 2016


I wonder how much debt collection call centre staff earn. They're probably ringing the person at the fucking desk next to them.

I bet a lot of them are either prisoners or ex-cons. It's not the kind of job anyone with options would want to do.
And I'm sure their mothers keep hoping they'll someday get a nicer job, like selling drugs to children.
posted by Jefffurry at 7:30 PM on February 23, 2016


I will reluctantly admit that there is probably a reasonable place in our society for such a thing as a "debt collection industry" to exist. But many of the linked talking points are *incredibly* shady and basically exemplify the need for such laws as the FDCPA, FCRA, and so on.

The linked material very plainly shows that the debt collection industry needs to be more strictly regulated, not less.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 8:30 PM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Log it and should they continue to call, contact your state's Attorney General's office.


Or the CFPB, or both.
posted by praemunire at 9:23 PM on February 23, 2016


I recently had a debt collector harassing me for a debt incurred by my ex. Now, keep in mind I divorced this man 25 years ago. We were teenagers when we married,and not much older when we realized it had been a mistake. I have not spoken to him since 1992. I don't know where he lives, how to reach him...I got nothing. I remarried 20 years ago.

I've filed complaints, but the debt keeps getting sold, and then it all starts again. It's maddening. I just don't answer the phone if I don't recognize the number.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:12 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr:
"I bet a lot of them are either prisoners or ex-cons. It's not the kind of job anyone with options would want to do."
You don't have to be a prisoner or ex-con to be low on options in this economy. I have a friend who ended up working for a debt collection company out of desperation and has actually risen to management. It's one of those jobs where you can only survive if you maintain an attitude of "people are fucking stupid", from what I can tell. We don't talk much anymore.
posted by charred husk at 6:34 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I got behind on my student loans a couple of years ago and a woman named Scarlet basically stalked me until I got my shit together.
posted by Biblio at 7:42 AM on February 24, 2016


I was one day late on a student loan payment once in the 5+Years Of students loan payments.
They called me and then My wife, and then my grandmother no lie. I got maybe 20 calls that day, and my grandmother was convinced I was in dire financial distress.

I paid it.
My grandmother also paid it.

I couldn't even imagine how much they harass people who don't pay.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:05 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I haven't had a new phone number in 20 years, that didn't come preloaded with debt collectors looking for someone who used to have the number. The amount of churn in phone numbers, combined with collection practices, makes it nearly inevitable. My current phone gets calls for Jamie. TONS of them. I have no idea who Jamie is. My past experience with new numbers is, it will taper some over time but will never completely stop.

A few years ago my Verizon cell phone suddenly started getting calls for Jennifer. From Verizon Credit. I couldn't get them to stop. They called every day. I eventually called Verizon Wireless and complained to their customer support. And Verizon Wireless blocked Verizon Credit's number from calling my phone. The block expired after a year, and the collection calls started up again. I called Verizon Wireless again and this time got a slightly smarter rep. She was able to think of a way to search their database and find which account had my number in it, and she determined two digits had been transposed, between the number they were calling and the number that had the unpaid bill. She fixed it and the problem stopped.
posted by elizilla at 11:07 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, they're actually saying that we owe these debt collectors a debt of gratitude?
posted by Chitownfats at 11:10 AM on February 24, 2016


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