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A few thoughts, considerations regarding debt collectors

Ah, debt collectors.

Although no reasonable person would tar and feather the entire debt collection industry without conceding that there are considerate and equitable actors operating within it, few people would dispute that the industry has long-tenured and demonstrated public relations problems.

Put another way: Legions of Wisconsin residents and consumers in all other states have had problematic encounters with debt collectors.

Myriad research reports and media outlets readily attest to that, including the New York Times, which recently stated in an article that, "Roughly one in seven American adults is being pursued by a collector."

Collection agencies are routinely excoriated on at least two counts. An initial complaint focuses on the oft-cited harassing behavior that collectors aim at their targets. It is sometimes deceptive and threatening, and often illegal.

A second point of serious concern, which was recently noted by the consumer advocacy group Center for Responsible Lending, is this: The debt-related information that collectors rely upon in their pursuit of repayment is far too often erroneous. That is especially true with debt that is sold by original lenders to so-called third-party buyers, often years after it was incurred.

As a result, the new creditor may be pursuing debt from the wrong person. Maybe the obligation was already satisfied. Perhaps germane details concerning outstanding balances, address information and other materials are simply wrong.

That can create real headaches for persons targeted by collectors.

Where the information is accurate, though, and pertains to significant debt obligations that a good-faith consumer has simply accrued owing to extraneous circumstances beyond his or her control (for example, crushing medical debt), that debtor might want to engage in a well-considered evaluation of viable options for resolving that debt.

Filing for bankruptcy is often a sound legal strategy for gaining a fresh start. Many types of debt are dischargeable through bankruptcy.

And one additional benefit looms large with a bankruptcy filing: It brings an automatic stay that keeps harassing creditors at bay.

An experienced debt-relief and bankruptcy attorney can provide further information and strong representation in any debt-related matter.

Source: The New York Times, "Dealing with debt collectors," Ann Carrns, May 20, 2014

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