Debt collector showing up at the door?

While watching professional sports every now and then a commentator will mention that so-and-so used to be a debt collector; said guy is always huge and scarey looking. This leads me to two questions:

  1. Do legitimate debt collection agencies actually ever physically send people out to collect a debt or scare/threaten the person owing the money?

  2. So what if they do… could a debt collector actually do anything other than yell and make scarey faces at you? Would they not get in a lot of trouble if they physically threatened or assaulted someone trying to get money, isn’t that robbery (whether you owe the money or not)?

(((Of course I’m talking about legal debt collection, not Vinny showing up at Johnny Salami’s restaurant at 2am with a machine gun to collect a drug debt)))

When lenders are repossessing collateral, they often prefer to send more intimidating collectors, to stave off objections by the debtor. Hence, departments like auto loan collections even at big, legitimate banks, are often staffed with quite a few very large individuals. “What are you doing?! That’s my car!” “No, that’s the bank’s car, you missed the last four payments. Is there a problem? :mad:” “:eek: Uh, no, sir. You have a nice day. I’m going to head on over to the bus stop …”

Repos are done personally by generally big scary people.

In at least one state, my home state of Louisiana, you can shoot to kill them after a verbal warning with few legal problems and you certainly won’t be prosecuted. I have personally known two people that have done that. Trespassing near a home is not taken lightly in Louisiana if a warning is given and the person refuses to comply with the warning.

Like almost everything in the U.S., this varies from state to state. In most states, collectors cannot walk onto your property without consent or at least they have to comply for orders to leave. There is one famous court case from an exchange student in Baton Rouge that was shot dead because of a language barrier and was the home owner was exonerated. A savvy person would make a 911 call after telling them that they are trespassing and they have to leave now.

Usually because some folks just won’t give up their (insert thing that they are late paying on here) without a fight. Or a shootin’ match.

We bought a house a few years ago from some people who were apparently in some financial trouble. About a year after we bought it, someone knocks on the door early in the morning, and I was asleep, so I ignored it. Then I hear the door open. My giant dogs are going nuts. I’m PISSED. I get up, throw on a robe, go confront the guy.

Its a big guy looking for the previous owners, saying he’s going to put a lein on the house. At this point my dogs have driven him halfway down the sidewalk, but he’s not leaving. He doesn’t believe me that I’m not who he thinks lives there, and then when I say we bought the house a year ago, he thinks we must be mistaken and we’re just renting it. Bastard. The dogs eventually drove him away.

So yes, they will send big guys out, and go into the house without an invite, and call you a liar, all before checking the tax records to see if the house has been sold. I’m glad we don’t have credit problems.

I hold no brief for debt collectors but that sounds a bit harsh.

Doesn’t the trespasser at least have to threaten the homeowner with physical violence before the homeowner can respond with a lethal bullet?

That is the good old USA :slight_smile:

Actually I knew a guy who did debt collection in Liverpool while we were at Uni.
He said it was more like social work - helping people get organized. His cow-orkers presented him with a toy gun when he left.

My brother used to do his own debt collection, he retailed computers to businesses. He said he had limited success as the bad ones knew the law, but at least he felt he had done something.

This is actually one law I can get behind. These sorts of actions should be completed through law enforcement with a court order rather than Hired Goons. As far as I’m concerned, my home, (rented currently) is my castle, and if I have to drive you off of it with force I will. To come to your door is pretty extreme though. I’d be really nervous if some thugs just showed up asking for money; I probably would not fully open the door without either seeing a court order and a badge, or having my gun in hand.

As Yoshihiro Hattori found out, not in Louisiana. As long you can convince a jury you felt “threatened” it seems like you get off in that state.

Here’s the relevant statute:

Under the UCC (adopted in pretty much all states), a private secured creditor can only use “self-help” if they can do it without breaching the peace. In most states, any face-to-face confrontation is a “breach of the peace”; as a practical matter, this means that as soon as the debtor tells the repo man “No!,” the repo man is supposed to leave. Of course, it does not always work that way. In any event the repo man is free to try again later (after you go to sleep, for example.)

AFAIK, it used to be common practice, and is still legal, for plain-vanilla bill collectors to send an agent to a house and ask for payment. But call centers are much more cost effective.

Note to self - never ever take a job as a debt-collector (or go as an exchange student) to Louisiana.

And to answer the question regarding Icelandic conditions. They can’t do anything except look scary and try to frighten you into paying.

You know who a lot of those guys work for? Places like Rent-A-Centers and other rent to own at 1000% interest places. They will come and take back their stuff if you’re even one weekly payment past due. It’s not like a car that you can sneak off with in the middle of the night, it’s stuff like sofas and TV’s and other big heavy items. The big dudes are not only good for intimidation of the people with the goods, but they can move out an entire suite of rental furniture pretty quickly too.

This thread reminds me of when I was 14. My sister had joined a record club that continued to send the record of the month for 6 months after my sister completed her obligations and then canceled the service. Besides being legally in the right she was 15 and really couldn’t be prosecuted even if she had been wrong.

So the collection agency came after my dad. One day I came out of my room ready to go out and hang with my friends and my dad was talking on the phone like he was going to cry. He was telling someone on the phone that he had the money but didn’t know if he should pay it. I was floored to hear the tone of my dad’s voice. He sounded so scared. As soon as he hung up the phone he turned to me and said, “Stay here. Some guy’s coming over to collect for these stupid records and you are going to swear to the police that he hit me.”

You see, in years of street fighting and boxing in the Navy, dear ol dad had only lost one fight; one where two guys held him while the third got to hit him.

So dear ol’ dad was trying to bait the collection agency guy into showing up. He was more than tired of the postal and phone harassment and was very eager to have a face to pound.

No way in hell would I want to miss that.

It’s a shame the agent never showed up.

Whoops, I should have distinguished debt collector from repo man in my original question; I know people are sent out to take back cars/furniture and other things. I meant are goons sent out to get money owed that’s not attached to property, like a loan you never paid back or an unpaid phone bill.

Also what kind of legal trouble would you get into for attacking these guys if they started threatening you or pushing their way into your home? From reading a lot of other debt collection threads it seems that these companies are notoriously sloppy in their research, won’t even listen to your side of the story, and make mistakes all the time - and those are the legitimate ones… I’m sure there are thieves who try to rob people while pretending to be collecting real debts.

How am I to tell the difference between a legitimate repo man and a home invasion at 5am when the two act basically the same?