Baby Boomers at the Receiving End of Collections Harassment
According to data released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), around 20% of older consumers have reported that creditors or collection agents have contacted them to collect unpaid debt. Many also reported being victims of abusive practices. These include getting senior citizens to repay debt by using proceeds from exempt government benefits and trying to collect debt from family members of deceased debtors.
How Collections Harassment Usually Works
Unscrupulous debt collectors use different tricks of the trade to target vulnerable seniors, who they typically view as more susceptible or easy to confuse than younger generations. Besides, many senior citizens remain in the dark about their legal rights and the ability to get free legal help. As a result, they end up shelling out any amount of money that collections agents claim they owe.
Most baby boomers end up paying money they don’t really owe, either because they want the harassment to stop or because they’re made to believe they actually owe the money.
Signs of Collections Harassment and Other Violations
If you’ve been at the receiving end of unrelenting collection calls, there is a possibility that you’re a victim of collections harassment or some other violation. If this is the case, it’s best that you seek legal counsel at the earliest. Here are the common signs.
- Undue harassment or abuse. If a collections agent uses abusive, profane, or threatening language, it’s a clear sign of harassment. So is any threat of violence or bodily harm.
- Demanding payment immediately. Be wary of collections agents who demand immediate payments or insist on receiving payments only via wire transfers.
- Repetitive calls. Making repetitive phone calls is in violation of the FDCPA and is viewed as harassment.
- Disclosing details of your debt. If a debt collector discloses details of your debt to anyone other than your spouse, it counts as harassment.
- False representation. Debt collectors who claim to represent a state or the federal government are in violation of the law.
- Misleading information. Providing false or misleading information about a debt’s legal status or amount qualifies as a violation of the FDCPA.
Special Provisions for Baby Boomers
State and federal laws keep some types of income and property outside of the purview of debt collection. This include Supplemental Security Income, Social Security, veterans’ disability, unemployment/workers’ compensation, and public assistance benefits. What makes the FDCPA particularly helpful is that while it prevents debt collectors from using unfair practices, it also makes way for erring parties to pay consumers’ attorney fees.
Sure, baby boomers have become a target of collections harassment, although knowing your rights can help you steer clear of becoming a victim. If you feel you’re being subjected to any form of harassment or misrepresentation, seeking advice from an attorney who specializes in collections harassment might work well for you. This is because in case of a violation, you might be able to get the debt written off and even get compensated for your troubles.