New book from FT Press helps consumers protect themselves against debt collecting lies and intimidation
New York, NY – Twelve out of 100 people in the U.S. are falling behind on their bills, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. These people are likely to get calls from professional debt collectors, who make more than one billion contacts with consumers a year.
But an explosion of complaints filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission shows that collectors don’t always follow the rules when they demand payment. They frequently make false threats and demand more than the amount owed.
Fight Back Against Unfair Debt Collection Practices: Know Your Rights and Protect Yourself from Threats, Lies, and Intimidation (FT Press, ISBN-13: 978-0137058303, paperback, $21.99, September 2010), by Fred Williams exposes the tactics that collectors use to boost their take, and tells readers how to protect themselves from costly mistakes. Armed with knowledge of debtor protection law, consumers can repel unfair and harassing collection tactics. They can win a negotiation for a money-saving debt settlement – and even turn the tables on an unlawful collector, winning a $1,000 penalty.
Author and veteran financial reporter Fred Williams took a job inside a collection agency in order to get a behind-the-scenes view of how the industry really operates. The lessons in how to trick consumers began on the first day of training, and he exposes them all.
The book is designed to help people who have just been called for the first time, as well as those who are struggling with multiple collectors and long-overdue bills. It also exposes how a wide-open debt market, where consumers’ account information is bought and sold, has opened the door to shakedown artists who pose as collectors.
“Of course people should pay back their legitimate debts,” says Williams. “But when they can’t, they or their children don’t deserve to be terrorized by telephone.”
The U.S. Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts sets the rules of fair play between debtors and collectors. However, it is up to consumers to know their rights and make sure they get a fair shake.
Following are five rights every consumer has when facing debt collection, which are highlighted in the book:
- Stop collection calls. Send a registered “cease communication” letter. For people being pestered for debts they do not owe, this can end repeated wrong-number calls.
- Dispute a debt. Send a certified letter to the agency within 30 days of the initial contact to dispute a debt, or a portion of one. The agency is required to provide verification of the debt or stop calling.
- End embarrassment at work. Collectors will call you at work as a pressure tactic. You can stop these calls, without ceasing communications, by saying that they are not permitted.
- Guard against scams and shakedowns. It is legal to record a collector’s call in most states without informing them you are doing so.
- Take a collector to court. False threats, lies and harassment are prohibited by law, and the victim is entitled to a $1,000 penalty from the collector.
In Fight Back Against Unfair Debt Collection Practices Williams reveals what he learned and shows you exactly how to fight back and protect your rights if you are paying back your debt. He weaves indispensable practical advice together with stories straight from his collection agency cubicle.
Check out the author’s blog for additional insights and tips http://copingwithcollectors.blogspot.com/
Go to FT Press online for additional information, including excerpts at http://www.ftpress.com/store/product.aspx?isbn=0137058306
About the Author
A business journalist for most of the past 24 years, Fred Williams has written about debt collection for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and for The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, where he started covering the industry in 1999. He undertook a six-month research project on the industry in 2006, supported by the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at The Ohio State University. In 2008, he worked as a debt collector for 11 weeks at a collection agency near Buffalo.
Fred graduated from Binghamton University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is careful to pay his entire credit card balance each month.
About FT Press
FT Press (www.ftpress.com), an imprint of Pearson, publishes high quality books in the areas of General Business, Finance and Investing, Sales and Marketing, Leadership, Management Strategy, Human Resources, and Global Business. Our brand is built on the concept of signing and publishing the world’s best minds on the most relevant topics.
The global leader in education services and technology, Pearson is home to such respected brands as FT Press (www.ftpress.com), Wharton School Publishing, Addison-Wesley Professional, Cisco Press, Exam Cram, IBM Press, Prentice Hall Professional, Que, Sams Publishing, which have as their online publishing arm, InformIT (www.informit.com) -The Trusted Technology Learning Source. Pearson is also co-founder, with O’Reilly Media Inc., of Safari Books Online (http://safari.informit.com), the premier on-demand technology content library providing thousands of expert reference materials through a single point of contact, including expert technology, creative and design, industry and management resources in video, audio and written formats. Pearson Education is part of Pearson (NYSE: PSO), the international media company. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group.