Harassment Goes Too Far in Debt Collection Efforts

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Harassment by a Collection Agency in the News

On February 10, 2012, The Huffington Post posted an online article placed on their website written by Harry Bradford. Excerpts taken from the article read: “Anne Sessions of Lane County, Oregon is suing Wells Fargo after one of its debt collectors reported to police that that the 85-year-old was threatening suicide, a claim she maintains was false.”

It seems the Wells Fargo collection agency went a little far in their harassment for debt collection from an 85-year-old senior who was anything but close to suicide. After the call to the police, the police took the senior into custody and sent the senior to a psychiatric pavilion for observation. There, she was found to be no danger to anyone including herself.

The senior reported she commented to the collection agency representative in their conversation that many of the collection agent’s customers must want to commit suicide after being harassed by the collection agency. This prompted the debt collection agent to try and trap the senior into admitting she was the one wanting to commit suicide. He suggested this by asking such taunting questions like “But…if you did [commit suicide], how would you do it – hurt yourself?”

Court records show being sent to the psychiatric pavilion left Sessions stuck with a hospital bill worth $1,055. The senior has filed a lawsuit against the debt collection agency in order to recover her hospital bill and $250,000 in punitive damages for the harassment of her by the collection agent.

Abuse and Harassment Claims on the Rise

The Federal Trade Commission has recently reported in their 2011 annual report that debt collection harassment has been increasing across the collection agency industry this past decade. debt collection abuse and harassment claims rose from 119,609 in 2009 to 140, 036 in 2010, the most ever reported.

The Government Beginning to Clamp Down

The FTC has begun clamping down on abuse and harassment claims against any collection agency showing signs of serial abuses. The collection agency who gives out harassment to the average debtor on a regular basis is beginning to receive harassment of their own for their abusive debt collection activities. Some of the debt collection agencies on the receiving end of harassment by the FTC may be getting the point on how it feels when being harassed. The only difference is that the pressure by the FTC placed on the collection agency who is illegally harassing debtors is legal.

Examples of Some Abusive Debt Collection Claims that Go Too Far

The FTC has been clamping down on a variety of collection agency abuse claims that includes repeated calls to debtors, failing to notify consumers in writing of their rights, and misrepresenting the debt in question. Some of the more horrific cases of harassment include using profanity and various types of threats against debtors.

Two of the more notable abuse cases took place in California where one debt collection attempt was made when the debt did not even exist. Another debt collection attempt was made by a collection agency who threatened to kill the debtors pets and desecrate the bodies of deceased family members.

Harassment goes too far when a debt collection agency makes these type of harassing and abusive debt collection efforts.

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