Liz Pulliam Weston wrote a disturbing article on MSN Money Central today. The title: Debt-collector bullies at it again.
Even if you have developed your credit score, to say over 800, you need to have your eyes out to keep it that way. Not that you are doing anything wrong, but that not all debt collection agencies operate the same. — And they are getting away with it!!!
You ask: What does a debt collection agency have to do with me? Identity theft first comes to mind. That is a rant for another time. Here I am talking about a third party collection agency purchasing a debt for pennies on the dollar and getting anyone they can to pay for their “investment.”
Example: You get something in the mail that looks like junk mail — from some address that doesn’t mean anything to you. You toss it out or shred it. End of your thoughts about it.
What happens next is the real kicker. You do not respond within 30 days to dispute the validity of the bill that you just received. So what? – Then it goes on your credit report! Most people do not even know inaccurate information has hit their report until they go out to buy a large ticket item on credit – like a house.
After you have not disputed the bill in the allowed time, they can add more collection fees, court costs, and actually take you to court. If you do not respond to the legal notice (which you may never see) a court date is determined. If you do not “show up” to dispute the bill, a default judgment is given to the collection agency. In other words the court has determined you owe the bill even though it was never yours in the first place. By “default” the agency is awarded the judgment and then can execute according to the jurisdictional laws.
After over 25 years working in the financial industry on all sides of the desk, I saw this happening way too often. Stay tuned for more information. Our recent economic situation has fed fuel to the fire. The American consumers can and must be their own best financial advocate. Third party debt collectors are highly regulated. Knowing your financial position and keeping your eyes out can and will save you bundles of not only money, but health and heartache as well.