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FTC closes down bill collector on egregious complaints

Any experienced bankruptcy attorney in the country has heard stories from consumers who have been subjected to creditor harassment. From time to time, this blog has recounted stories from the news of the outrageous tactics some bill collectors have used in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Cincinnati bankruptcy attorneys know that consumer laws are in place to protect financially distressed individuals from the outlandish tactics that some creditors use.

Despite consumer protection laws, some creditors still find ways to attempt to collect a debt that shock the conscience. A recent story of creditor harassment involves the Federal Trade Commission and a West Coast bill collector that has been shut down by the federal agency. The company reportedly engaged in such egregious conduct that it makes a person wonder how those allegedly involved could even look in the mirror each morning.

The FTC closed down the bill collector after fielding a long list of complaints from consumers over the devious tactics the bill collector allegedly used against financially distressed consumers.

One woman, who had recently lost her daughter, could not afford to pay the funeral expenses. The FTC says the debt collector told the woman the company was going to dig up her daughter's body and hang the body from a tree if the woman did not pay the bill. That apparently was not cruel enough; the FTC says the collection agency threatened to take the woman's dog and "eat him."

One Midwestern woman says the bill collectors repeatedly called her, even though she told them they had the wrong person. The bill collector threatened the woman with flatulence if she did not pay the bill, although, according o the FTC, the actual words in the threat were crafted more crudely.

The FTC also says the company contacted the mother of two special needs children and suggested she sell her children to pay the bill, although the bill collector used a derogatory term in characterizing the woman's children. Thankfully, the FTC has reportedly shut down the debt collection company and frozen all of its assets pending further action.

No consumer has to put up with creditor harassment. Laws exist to protect consumers from unfair practices. For many who are experiencing financial distress, bankruptcy is one option to not only stop creditor harassment in its tracks, but also provide a pathway to a fresh start.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "FTC freezes debt collection firm's assets," Stephanie Hoops, Oct. 6, 2011

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