With the fall of the economy, there appears to be a rise of debt collector employees using threatening tactics to collect debts from sometimes unsuspecting people. They might pose as lawyers to scare and bully people into paying debts that sometimes they don’t even owe.
Not only do people have to live in fear of bankruptcy and losing jobs and homes, but now collectors might be harassing not just people who owe money, but also people who don’t.
According to CNN.com, it is against Federal and New York law for debt collection agencies to lie and threaten people in order to collect money.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is trying to shut down these agencies supposedly run by the Benning-Smith Group. This group allegedly posed as law enforcement officials and lawyers to threaten people into paying debts.
Supposedly these agencies are buying debt from existing corporations and attempting to make collections. In some instances the people they called had no idea they even owed any debt, and in fact, they may not.
People who have been harassed have paid so the collectors will leave them alone. Michele Milton is one of many who did just that.
When Michele received a phone call at her Springville, N.Y. home, she was not expecting the voice on the other end to threaten her with arrest if she did not pay the money she apparently owed. The man said he was a lawyer looking to collect the debt she needed to pay, and if she did not pay then she would be arrested and child services would take the kids.
Before she knew it, she had told the man her bank account number in hopes she would not be arrested. She later learned the man was not a lawyer but an employee of a debt collection agency.
In other alleged cases, debt collector employees threatened sexual assault on a family’s daughter and in a separate case requested sex acts in exchange for paying off debts. Some people owed nothing but out of fear of these threats – they paid.
Another alleged instance of harassment was Dorothy Gilbert. She said she received threatening calls stating she was “totally ghetto” and that she should “learn English [AND] get an education,” and the collector was requesting she pay a debt that she already paid.
CNN states more than 850 complaints have been filed against the group making these calls. The attorney general’s office, the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau are all seeing the complaints. According to the attorney general, he will try to recover money for the people who didn’t owe, but paid anyway.