They can't say that the consumer has committed a crime, try to collect more than is owed, or contact the consumer by postcard.
Stamford, CT (PRWEB) April 30, 2009
With unemployment rates soaring toward double digits, home values in a nosedive, and propped-up banks withholding credit, consumers are being subjected to unprecedented financial stress - pressure only made worse by debt collection agencies that engage in unfair practices. According to attorney Sergei Lemberg (http://www.stopcollector.com), an increasing number of collectors are crossing the line and violating the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). "At a time when consumers are most vulnerable, we're seeing a surge in aggressive collection tactics," said Lemberg. "People who not long ago were courted by banks and credit card companies are now being hounded by abusive debt collectors who threaten and harass them."
Lemberg notes that the vast majority of consumers don't know what constitutes illegal behavior, or that they have recourse if they're victimized by unlawful collection practices. "The FDCPA prohibits collectors from utilizing tactics like calling early in the morning or late at night, calling the workplace, and misrepresenting themselves as attorneys or credit bureau representatives," he said. "They can't say that the consumer has committed a crime, try to collect more than is owed, or contact the consumer by postcard."
These common practices are just the tip of the iceberg, though. Lemberg has clients whose post-dated checks have been deposited early, who have been threatened with harm, who have been told that their paychecks or property would be taken away, and who have be tricked into providing detailed information to debt collectors. "Debt collectors know that they can take advantage of consumers' fear, and target people who are already anxious about providing for their families," Lemberg said. "Honest consumers who engage unscrupulous collectors in an attempt to work out a solution are most often the victims of verbal attacks and threats." Moreover, he notes that people don't realize that, once they engage the services of an attorney, the debt collection calls will stop. "Once represented by an attorney, a debt collector is not allowed to call that person again. That's a huge relief to someone who has been harassed," he said.
This lack of awareness is why Lemberg is on a mission to educate consumers about illegal practices, and to let them know that the FDCPA includes penalties for collectors who break the law. "The federal law allows consumers in successful actions to collect $1,000 in damages plus attorney fees, and some state laws spell out even more severe penalties," he said.
The bottom line? According to Lemberg, "We're living in unprecedented economic turmoil, a time when vulnerable consumers need every protection the law provides. That's why we're committed to helping alleviate fear and anxiety by providing people with the justice they deserve."
About Lemberg & Associates, LLC
The attorneys at Lemberg & Associates, LLC are experts in fair debt collection, and practice in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, and Washington, D.C. Sergei Lemberg can brief you about illegal debt collection, avenues of redress, and other protections afforded by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
For more information, contact:
Lemberg & Associates, LLC
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