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In debt? Know your rights when dealing with collectors

In debt? Know your rights when dealing with collectors

(Refunds and Settlements, Credit and Money Matters) Permanent link

The Federal Trade Commission has a new animated video that explains rights consumers have when dealing with debt collectors.


The skinny:

  • They can contact you in person, by mail, telephone, or carrier pigeon but not before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m – unless you agree. A debt collector may not contact you at work if the collector is aware that your employer prohibits it.
  • If an attorney is representing you about the debt, the debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you. If you don’t have an attorney, a collector may contact other people only to find out your address, your phone number, and where you work.
  • They can't harrass you, cuss at your or use abusive language.
  • Lying and misleading are illegal.

In related news, the Attorney General's Office settled our case with Topco Financial, which allegedly called debtors names such as "scum," "lowlife" and "deadbeat." The agreement prohibits the Everett debt collection agency from harassing or intimidating consumers, threatening debtors with impairment of their credit rating or implying that failure to pay a debt will result in the consumer's driver's license being revoked or suspended.

Posted by Kristin Alexander All Consuming Blog Moderator at 01/08/2010 05:28:08 PM | 

When an attorney is a 'debt collector' (as per there own documents) and not a 'collection agency' the attorney is not held accountable for consumer protection law violations (both local and federal) within civil court. As the presiding judge stated 'They always act like attorneys in my court". Why is this?
Posted by: JJTA800 ( Email ) at 1/15/2010 2:19 PM

I have watched the video and read the forum but have not seen anything regarding washington state licensing requirements yet ...
There is an Attorney agency in Washington State that specializes in Collections and lists itself as a 'debt collector' on their own documents. They used to have a collection agency license but let it lapse 1/30/2008. It was just explained to me that they do not need a Washington State 'Collection Agency' license to collect because they are attorneys. Is this correct?
Posted by: JJTA800 ( Email ) at 1/19/2010 8:01 AM

JJTA800, Our office is prohibited from providing you with a legal analysis of the law or how it may apply to the specific example you provide. However, I can tell you that there are many types of professionals who attempt to collect debts who are not required to be licensed; attorneys among them.

RCW 19.16.100 states:


(3) "Collection agency" does not mean and does not include:

(c) Any person whose collection activities are carried on in his, her, or its true name and are confined and are directly related to the operation of a business other than that of a collection agency, such as but not limited to: Trust companies; savings and loan associations; building and loan associations; abstract companies doing an escrow business; real estate brokers; property management companies collecting assessments, charges, or fines on behalf of condominium unit owners associations, associations of apartment owners, or homeowners' associations; public officers acting in their official capacities; persons acting under court order; lawyers; insurance companies; credit unions; loan or finance companies; mortgage banks; and banks;
Posted by: KRISTIN ALEXANDER, ALL CONSUMING BLOG MODERATOR ( Email ) at 1/29/2010 11:07 AM

Why can I not on this site find anything about a collection agency called Alliance One?The myriad of complaints against this company on the websites is astonishing.Could it be because they are the debt collectors for the majority of courts in WA state?Collusion or what?
Posted by: Kevin Jordan ( Email ) at 8/14/2011 5:52 AM

i agree 100% w/ Kevin. They are a total unethical,rip-off company, run in the most unprofessional and unethical fashion. I warned them if they did not respond w/ receipt as court document stated they would each month,( after6 written requests)Their "response" was to tell the court s I was in noncompliance. My records showed I'd paid in full. They said I owed $190more. which I had no choice but to pay on. At $60 balance,(again, near the end) still no statement nor receipt. I ended up losing my license. and paying another $900! in new fees, re-licensing,etc.etc.! I went into hospital w/ cancer shortly after I filed w/ BBB and couldn't respond in time frame, so they dismissed my complaint. hhmm...collusion? oh, yes, Kevin and more!!
Posted by: jim bury ( Email ) at 6/20/2012 12:35 AM

Does a consumer have to pay interest imposed by a debt collection agency if it exceeds the original amount of debt? Is medical debt any different from credit card debt or any other debt? [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: Generally, consumers are responsible for the fees and interest added to debts that are in collections. I’m not aware of any specific state laws that exempt any specific debts. You can dispute the interest if you feel it is excessive and see if the collection agency is willing to reduce the amount of interest. If you are unable to talk with the collection agency you can file a consumer complaint with our office.]
Posted by: Deborah Gerrie ( Email ) at 4/2/2013 5:59 PM

Highline Hospital sells old bills that have passed statute of limitations.
Posted by: Melissa ( Email ) at 10/22/2013 8:00 PM

Can a company jump straight to garnishing my wages without attempting collecting? What if I have turned the debt over to a debt consolidation company?
AGO Blog Comment Manager (lw): Please contact our Consumer Protection Division at 800-551-4636 between 10am - 3 pm for help with this question.
Posted by: Dawn ( Email ) at 2/7/2014 9:49 AM

I received a call on my cell phone while driving from a collection agency. I was unable to understand the name of the company. She did say the call was being recorded. I told her I did not remember receiving any mail from them. She said they sent it out, could not hear the date, and was not going to sent out another statement. Since the call was "being recorded" I said to her so you are refusing to send another copy of the statement so I can make arraignments to pay it and she said yes. If requested is a collection agency suppose to send out current statement.
AGO Blog Comment Manager (lw): Please contact our Consumer Protection Division at 800-551-4636 between 10 am and 3 pm.
Posted by: Stephen Brakefield ( Email ) at 4/12/2014 11:35 AM

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