Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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For many, unmanageable debt can lead to collections woes

Few things are more stressful than going through a period of serious financial hardship. First the bills begin to pile up, and California consumers begin to juggle which accounts must be paid first and which can be put aside for a month or two. This often accompanies a fast reduction in savings, and a slow awareness that the situation is unlikely to improve in time to make a full recovery. Making matters worse, unmanageable debt is often followed by aggressive collection efforts, which only adds to the stress.

Many consumers are unaware of their rights in relation to debt collection. Unfortunately, some debt collectors will push or exceed these limitations in an effort to force the consumer to pay the outstanding balance. The only way to protect against unfair treatment is to understand where the line is drawn.

Collectors are not allowed to make threats toward consumers. This includes threatening to have the borrower arrested if he or she does not pay. Another common tactic is to threaten a job loss, which is also not allowed.

There is also a wide range of scams associated with debt collection. When a call or letter is received, be sure to contact the original creditor to verify that the collector is authorized to pursue the debt. If not, report the collection action to the creditor and the authorities.

Going through financial troubles is difficult enough, without adding another layer of stress to the mix. In many cases, California consumers would be better served to consider bankruptcy as an option to address unmanageable debt. Bankruptcy not only puts an immediate end to collections efforts, it also gives filers a fresh financial start in life.

Source: NBC Washington, "Debt Collector Rules", Liz Crenshaw and Katie Roberts, April 30, 2014

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