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Turning the tables on a debt collector

There are times that debt collectors cross the line and become abusive and harassing. Many know perfectly well that they're in violation of the Fair Debt Collection and Practices Act, but they're gambling that you don't know that -- or won't do anything about it.

Sometimes, that gamble backfires on them in a big way. For example, a Missouri woman endured months of harassment from a debt collector over a debt she didn't believe she owed (and she didn't). When her son got involved and pushed back, the debt collector sued the woman.

Typically, debt collectors that file numerous lawsuits every year against hapless debtors hope that they can win a default judgment or bully the debtor into paying in order to avoid the lawsuit. In this case, bullying was probably exactly the debt collector's intent, since they never bothered to show up for the actual trial. Since they didn't show, the defendant won her case by default.

However, she decided to turn the tables on the debt collector and sue back -- alleging the months of harassment over a debt that wasn't hers violated the law. The court agreed and handed her a $500,000 verdict for malicious prosecution.

What many people don't realize is that debt collectors often buy out old debts for pennies on the dollar and don't have the necessary proof to even pursue collection. They rely on intimidation tactics instead:

-- Calling at all hours. The law limits restricts collection calls to the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

-- Verbal abuse or repeated calls. It isn't reasonable for a debt collector to call repeatedly during the same day and collectors should never be profane.

-- Trying to collect from debtors in bankruptcy. All debt collection should cease when the debtor is in bankruptcy.

-- Calling your friends, family, or neighbors to tell them about the debt.

-- Continuing to contact the consumer after he or she has requested them to stop via a written notice.

-- Misrepresenting facts, like telling the consumer they will be arrested, or that a lawsuit has been filed when it hasn't.

If you believe that you're being illegally harassed by a debt collector, consider contacting an attorney for help.

Source:, "Jury awards $500,000 to Lee's Summit woman hounded by debt collector," Linda Wagar, March 14, 2017

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