Residents of Wisconsin are being warned that some debt collectors are going over the line in their collection tactics and may even be breaking the law in some cases. While personal bankruptcy is an option for those who are struggling with debt, many individuals will attempt to work with creditors first to pay off their debts. However, if creditors are not following the law, people may end up being harassed or feeling forced to pay a debt they do not owe.
Since Jan. 1 of this year, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions has reported that it has received more than 100 written complaints regarding debt collectors. One common complaint is that creditors are calling people and telling them that if they do not "act immediately" that they could be arrested. According to the DFI's press release, these callers are not associated with law enforcement and there is no real threat of jail.
To help people deal with these less than scrupulous creditors, it is recommended that people request verification of their debt. Collectors are required to provide written documentation of the debt and share information about where they are located. If they are not able to provide this, they are legally required to stop collection attempts. Additionally, individuals are urged not to share personal information over the phone as it could be used against them in the future and they have no legal obligation to provide it.
If someone is overwhelmed with debt and attempts to work with creditors has failed, filing for bankruptcy can help them eliminate their debt. A lawyer could explain how this process works as well as assist individuals file for bankruptcy.
Source: JS Online, "Wisconsin consumers warned about shady debt collection tactics", Gitte Laasby, August 21, 2013