Debt collectors are going beyond the pale to harass customers, using email, old cell phones, and social media sites to harass not only clients, but family and friends as well. Unbelievably, the collectors now want the law to change to allow them to do so legally, a notion that appalls many consumer protection groups.
“It seems like they are looking for looser laws when they refuse to adhere to adhere to the ones that are in place now,” says the head of law firm Morgan & Morgan’s consumer protection department, Billy Howard. “The law’s real simple and should remain the same – do not harass people and/or their families or friends. They want the right to bombard people with emails and auto dialers and we have a law in place right now to protect consumers against that type of conduct. The laws should not be expanded to give these guys greater protection.”
Complaints against debt collectors rose by almost 40,000 during 2010, with many agencies seemingly already behaving as though those “looser” laws they crave are already in place, with Melanie Beacham, a consumer who fell behind on a car payment after having to go on a medical leave of absence from her job, finding herself the target of harassment despite the agency being well aware of her situation. The agency called her on her home phone, her work phone, and her old cell phone, and then even began contacting family members on the internet. As one commentator on the ABCNews.com site pithily noted, “Debt collectors are often the scum of the Earth.”