Saturday

Dear S- - - face Collection Letter is Over the Line

You think you've heard of some pretty pushy collection calls and letters from aggressive bill collectors? Well, this one takes the cake.

A collection agency tried to collect a $16.96 debt with a letter that addressed the alleged debtor as "Dear S - - -", meaning a four letter word for excrement except that the word was spelled out in the letter. The letter itself was put in an envelope that was addressed to "S--- Face."

Nationwide Collections of Ft. Pierce, Florida bought about 350,000 old Columbia House accounts and promptly fired off demand letters for payments of pidley amounts like this one. For its part, Nationwide Collections says that all the letters were automatically generated by a computer and this one happens to be the name on the account. Yeah, right.

Under federal law, debt collectors are not allowed to use profanity to collect a debt. That's true whether the harassment comes in a letter or over the phone. Either way it's wrong. Federal collection laws were passed to require bill collectors to treat you with respect, whether you owe the money or not --- and sometimes (like this case) you may not owe the money at all.

There's a lot of "old" debt hanging around that banks (already hurting from their stupid greedy predatory mortgage practices) are dusting off and selling to collection companies like this. Why? Well, a couple of pennies for each dollar can amount to a lot of money for doing nothing but handing over a computer disk with data on it. Is it all really owed? The bank's answer might just be "who cares?"

The debt buyer (often called "bottom feeders" in the collection business) pay only pennies for the right to collect the debt because they know that most all of it is uncollectable. But they also know that harassment (legal or not) can turn those pennies into dollars from people who can't prove it was paid off or from people who just don't want to put up with the phone calls and nasty letters. So, they make money.

And true to form, as long as they can make money at it, you can bet collection companies will do it. But every once in a while they go too far.

So what can you do? You can either get a really thick skin and just live with it, or you can sue them to make them leave you alone. If you owe the money and they harass you, you might also be able to get them to finally wipe out the debt completely too. At the very least, you can make them treat you reasonable and fair.

Oh yeah, and you can make them pay you $1,000 just because they did it. Oh yeah, plus your legal costs too. Why did Congress pass that law? To keep piranha bill collectors in check because Congress knew the bill collectors could get crazy on you and that might drive more people into bankruptcy which, in the long run, hurts the economy even more than it's already hurting.

If bill collectors are harassing or abusing you, leaving messages at work, telling your neighbors you owe them money, or doing anything else that is unfair to you or illegal, call us Toll Free at 1-888-331-6422 or email us today.

Sure, we sue car dealers who lie to people and manufacturers who don't stand behind their warranties too. But when bill collectors are harassing you, we can make them respect you and treat you right again. Heck, we might even be able to make them go away for good.

Burdge Law Office
www. US Credit Rights .com
Helping Consumers Protect Themselves Since 1978

This story came from the Associated Press, via an article recently posted on msnbc.