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CPFB report reveals debt collector abuse and harassment

Debt collectors make thousands of calls to Tennessee residents every day, but more than half of these communications are based on inaccurate information or are being made to the wrong person according to a report published on Jan. 12 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The report, which is based on surveys returned by more than 2,000 American consumers, also reveals the widespread disregard of federal regulations by the companies that make up the $13.7 billion debt collection industry.

Many of the regulations debt collectors are expected to follow were put into place to protect consumers from harassment and abuse, but rules that prohibit debt collection calls being made before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. are ignored about 40 percent of the time according to the CFPB report. Debt collectors are also supposed to cease all calls after consumers have asked them to in writing, but only about one in four companies actually do so according to the survey responses.

Approximately one third of Americans are contacted by debt collectors each year, but the CFPB has only taken action over abuse or harassment about 25 times. Those actions resulted in more than $300 million being returned to consumers, and regulations proposed by the agency in July 2015 would put a weekly cap on the number of calls that companies can place about any particular debt and protect the relatives of deceased debtors from receiving calls for at least 30 days.

For many people, it is the harassment they receive from creditors on a daily basis that prompts them to take action and pursue debt relief. While filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy petition stops debt collection calls, it also provides those struggling with an unbearable financial situation the opportunity for a fresh start. Experienced bankruptcy law attorneys could also explain the advantages and disadvantages of the various forms of debt relief available and how they impact an individual's credit rating and future borrowing ability.

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