Another Going Down the Drain Topic - Abusive Collectors

I usually just let the machine kiss them good-bye, but I just picked up a warm one.

Are You!?
Is your SSN!?

You owe XXXXX (want to get the exact name - “Chase” covers a lot of ground) $37,121.xx!
(this must be a credit card I dumped in 1996 to get up to that much interest interest.

Anyway, this is NOT a collectable debt, and this sleaze bag is talking about having located seize-able assets (not unless you get a judgement), income to garnishee (no such thing), etc.

Q: Good resource for how to sue the creeps which abuse the collection laws?

I remember, years back, a 60 minutes about a fellow in Texas who had just printed off a stack of questionnaires he had prepared - when an abusive collector called, he’d just pick up a form:
What is your name
Who do you represent
How much do I owe? Original creditor?
Can you garnishee my wages (not in Texas)?
Can you seize property (not in Texas)

So on - he made a couple of thousand/mo taking these folks to small claims.

Sound like a plan?

So it’s wrong for collectors to try to collect money you legitimately owe them?


Opinions differ. It’s certainly illegal to use certain types of tactics in an effort to collect certain types of debts. Whether it’s also wrong is a matter of opinion on which I take no position.

Well, this is a timely topic for me. I just yesterday had one call me regarding a relative, and he said that if the debt wasn’t paid immediately, the police would be on their way within the hour to arrest the ower. I called the person in question, who checked with the local police station, the district attorney’s office, and the sheriff’s department, and no warrants or summons exist. So, yeah.

What does right and wrong have to do with a contractual obligation?

We no longer have a debtor’s prison.

It’s not utterly impossible to imagine a sequence of events that starts with not paying a debt and ends up with confinement in jail, but it’s as close to impossible as you get in the world of legal results – there are a lot of intermediate steps necessary, and it’s a very unlikely outcome. About the only way I can imagine it happening is a person who is sued, loses, has a default judgement entered against them, that judgement then being enforced by attachment or court order, the debtor being hauled into court and ordered to comply, failing to do so, being issued a show cause order for why he should not be held in contempt for that failure, and then not satisfying the show cause order. Ultimately, in that very rare ending, it’s the judge ordering confinement for contempt, and NEVER a debt collector directly acting in any way to secure imprisonment. That’s not only a lie on the part of the debt collector, but it’s a lie specifically forbidden by federal law: 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq, also known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Thanks for the info. I’ll pass it on and hopefully these scumbags will have consequences.

It’s very wrong when they are harassing people who don’t owe them any money.

We keep getting calls for the previous owner of this house. They sold the house to us about 5 years ago but still give out this address as a current address. I know the bit about the address since the police visited about a month ago looking for them as well. Our phone number has never been associated with the previous owners. We’ve had debt collectors be fairly aggressive about not believing that we aren’t the previous owners. They’ve called several times and left many messages.

If a supposed debt is 17 years old, it is probably well past ( as in 10-14 years) the statute of limitations in every state that has such a thing. Anyone collecting on such a thing is a “junk debt buyer” specializing in “zombie accounts” that they purchased for pennies or fractions of a cent on the dollar in a portfolio. Anyone who thinks one has some sort of obligation to pay probably doesn’t know how this works. They have about as much obligation to pay as you would if I just called you up and said I owned some debt you had back in college and you better send me a check.

There are forums that specialize in this such as “credit boards.” I have never sued a junk debt buyer, but I have successfully defended myself in a few suits using the information found on credit-specific message boards.

I may be wrong, but IIRC if you acknowledge the debt, even to settle for pennies on the dollar, it will bring it back onto your credit history after it had long since fallen off.

That’s why they called you. It’s a somewhat common tactic (or so I hear) to call relatives, co-workers, neighbors etc about the debt with the hopes that other people (like you) will call them to let them know about it and they’ll pay it off so the collectors stop telling everybody that they owe all that money or threatening their friends with arrest.
Of course your relatives racking up credit card debt isn’t going to get you arrested…but you got a hold of them when they’ve just been hanging up on the collector for the last 6 months.

I had a friend who worked in debt collection for a while that used an interesting tactic. For starters, I should mention that she was pretty compassionate. She would, regularly, go out and buy calenders, with her own money to help people remember to make payments. “Okay John, you owe $300, I tell you what, I’ll send you a calender with $20 written on the 17th of each month since you get paid on the 15th. Each 17th, send us $20 and in one year that’ll be $240 and we’ll call it even if you don’t miss a payment.”
Anyways, one thing that she would do if she had an account that was going on 5 or 6 years with no activity was to make a ‘deal’ with them that she would ‘settle’ the account for some measly amount like $5. As soon as they’d send in the $5, the statute of limitations would reset, since most people wouldn’t know to ask for some kind of paper work first from them promising that they would close out the account for the $5 payment.
I remember her telling me that all these people had to do was keep ignoring them until the debt hit the 7 year mark and they were in the clear, but that little $1 or $5 payment gave them 7 more years to try to collect.

For many months I have been massively plagued by debt collectors calling my phone, trying to reach some person who I’ve never heard of. (Always the same person.) Possibly a previous holder of this phone number, although I’ve had this number for several years.

I don’t know what it will take to get this to stop.
– These calls are all anonymous. There is no caller-ID.
– Most of them are some variety of robo-call.
– When I do get a live one, they refuse to identify themselves.
– They start by asking me if I’m [insert name], or if that person is available.
– If I say no, they they refuse to say anything more – including identifying themselves.

So how do I get this to stop?

I’ve been tempted to say that I am [insert name], just to get them talking. Then I might ask things like, where do I send the money, or who do I make it out to, etc. But I don’t know what unintended consequences that might have, either for me or for the real [insert name].

ETA: I’ve also tried saying: [insert name] isn’t available just now, can I take your name and number and have him call you back? They won’t fall for that. They aren’t that dumb.

And I’ve sometimes straight-up told them that no such person is at this number. I don’t know if that stops them. I keep getting these calls, but I don’t know how many different collectors these are coming from.

The credit report time is based on date of first delinquency concurrent to the charge-off/default. That does not reset.

The legal collection time is what you are thinking of, but it’s a little more than simple acknowledgement, usually. Probably some action of re-affirming the debt, agreeing to a repayment plan and making payments, something like that.

They are 2 different things- 1 being important for your credit report, and the other for legal collection/being sued. Of course, if one has a defense, it has to be raised. A debt buyer could sue you for a 100 year-old debt, and if you ignore it they could win and obtain a judgment. You have to file an answer with the defense. They probably won’t, though.

But what you are saying raises a good point- On an ancient debt, it is probably not in your best interests to pay to settle it, even if pennies on the dollar. It gives you no benefit at all, and you aren’t really paying a “debt that you owe” to the creditor. The original creditor is long gone. They already wrote-off the account and sold it. You are paying a company that bought your account for a penny in a portfolio of 1000s. If it’s beyond the legal statute of limitations, unless you are sued you can just ignore it. If you are being contacted you can feel pretty confident in sending a cease and desist- and if they don’t comply, you could sue them. There’s almost nothing positive you could do when communicating with a debt collector.

I’ve had a long dispute with Sprint.

I dropped their service. I paid my final bill and got out. It wasn’t till many months (nearly a year) later they sent a bill for 55 bucks, claiming I owed it. When I asked why it didn’t come up till now, they can’t give me an straight answer.

So I’ve been ignoring them. (Also, I’m really poor)

The other day, my cell phone rang and it said the incoming call was from Amanda. A person on my contact list. It was Sprint! How did they do that?

No, not wrong. It’s wrong for collectors to use certain tactics, though. And it’s wrong for collectors to try to collect a debt that’s already been paid off, which has happened to me.


Statute of limitations runs from 'date of last activity" - if you send them $10, that $10 is “activity”, and the cycle starts all over.

If you get a call “Look, I know you’re having a tough time, and I’d like to let them drop the case - if you can do anything, even $10 I can show my boss that you’re trying, maybe I can get them…”

s a trick to use of past-limitations debts to get them to re-activate the debt.

NEVER DO IT - if they pull that trick, they know it is past statute of limitations.

I have never even tried to deal with robo-calls - I just let them talk to the machine all they wanted.

With the explosion of devices which use phone numbers, the practice of leaving old, surrendered number dormant for x months is gone. It used to be, when a person moved, and left their number behind, that umber would go into the bottom of the stack of “available numbers”. It would take months for it to raise to the top - months during which the credit folks would get the “disconnected” message, and eventually drop the number.
Now, numbers are re-assigned almost instantly, and they never get any hint that the new owner is not the old owner,
I actually picked up one live caller and told him the number had been reassigned, I didn’t know “whats-her-name”, and calling this number was a waste of his time, she was no longer at this number. He immediately assumes that I’m a ruse “what is her new number?” “Where is she” “how do you know…”
I told him I was trying to help him, but was not going to play 20 questions and hang up.
Next time he called (yes, I did get enough of his calls I could recognize his voice), I picked it up and said “she still isn’t here, sir.” He responded with “Thank you sir”. and went away

Interesting, and I appreciate the clarification. For this part, though, what prevents unscrupulous people from just doing this all the time? That is, filing groundless lawsuits in hopes of being ignored and obtaining a judgment?

Anybody can sue (almost) anyone, anytime"

Yes, I can go through the phone book and sue everybody in it for $100 each. Almost all of them would throw away the Summons and never file a response. Whereupon I get a default judgement for $100 plus filing fees.

Doing so would run afoul of any number of doctrines. See Wki for “abuse of process” - it may or may not apply, but the article has links to similar concepts which could apply.

Eventually, (say, the 50th filing in a mid-sized city), the court is going to recognize my name, and (somebody) is likely suggest to a respondent to file counter-suit, whereupon I am liable for punitive/exemplary damages.

But - if you have enough money:
Some pay-by-event TV company was demanding $2500 from every person who bought a machine capable of re-programming their cards.
No allegation that the buyer had, or was planning, to do so, just because they bought such a machine.
Those who did not pay $2500 got themselves sued in FEDERAL court - where it costs $10,000 just to respond.
Eventually, somebody brought class-action against the sleaze bags.

The court sided with the sleaze bags.

No, I don’t remember names - mayhaps one of our attorneys will recognize the case.