Debt Collectors Run Wild

Modbee: “Embarrassing calls at work. Threats of jail and even violence. Improper withdrawals from bank accounts. An increasing number of consumers are complaining of abusive techniques from some companies that are part of a new breed of debt collectors.

They are debt buyers, outfits that acquire unpaid bills from credit card firms and other credit providers for pennies on the dollar and then try to collect. Some of these companies go after bills so old that consumers no longer can be sued for them in court or punished for them on their credit reports.

As the amount of consumer debt has risen over the years, so, too, has the number of these firms, growing from about a dozen firms in 1996 to more than 500 today. Industry officials say the firms provide a real benefit to indebted consumers, letting them pay off their bills at steep discounts. But industry critics ??? plaintiff attorneys, consumer advocates and regulators ??? say that for some firms, the demand to make a profit on the debts they buy has resulted in the increasing use of heavy-handed, and sometimes illegal, tactics.”