Many Illinois residents have credit card or medical debts that they have
had trouble paying off, and in some cases these obligations are assigned
to, or purchased by, third party debt collection agencies. It is not uncommon
for these collectors to use harassing behavior in order to try and force
the debtor to pay off the balance that is owed. Some of the activities
that they employ are prohibited by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act, and in some cases a debtor who has been the victim of this unlawful
behavior may be able to obtain financial recourse.
The FDCPA does not apply to the actual creditor, such as the issuer of
the credit card, or to the creditor's collections department, but
only to third-party collectors. However, some states have similar laws
directed at the actual creditor itself. Prohibited actions include calling
repetitively or at odd hours, threatening criminal prosecution, using
offensive or profane language, lying, divulging information about a person's
account to a third party, and calling or contacting a debtor once it is
known that the debtor has legal representation.
The FDCPA provides recourse to a victimized debtor in the form of a $1,000
penalty that is owed by the collector to the debtor for each infraction
committed by the collection agency. In order to document such a violation,
it is suggested that those who are being harassed should announce that
they are recording the conversation when the collector calls.
Should the harassment continue, this can constitute documentation of the
behavior, which the debtor can use if a decision is made to sue the
debt collector for a violation. If the debtor is able to prevail in court with such evidence
and accordingly obtain a judgment, then of course it will be necessary
to make an attempt to enforce it. A consumer rights attorney can provide
more information on this type of issue.
Source: Main Street,
"Does a Debt Collection Agency Owe You Thousands of Dollars?", Nicholas Pell, Jan. 15, 2015