What Are Collection Agencies?

by : Tristan Andrews

When you hear about collection agencies, do you think about commercials like the one in which someone is avoiding the phone because they're dealing with a mountain of debt? That is actually a more realistic commercial than most because people do sometimes avoid collection agencies. And collection agencies make a lot of calls to people who are behind in their payments.

This is the point: collection agencies are companies or sometimes lawyers, who hire out their services to collect a debt to a creditor who may be a service provider, apartment manager or credit card company etc.

The creditor will send your bill and eventually warnings about turning the bill over to a collection agency. If you don't respond with payment they give the job to a collection agency. This is how they cut their losses. The elapsed time until they sell the bill to the collection agency is between 3 to 12 months.

The collection agency may not contact you by phone or mail, but just watch and wait for you as you are going about your daily business.

Your debt usually sells for a fraction of the amount owed to your creditor. It can be as low as 10% of the original debt. The collection agency will use every method they have to get the money you owe.

The collection agency sometimes works directly for the company or small business that you owe money, which means the debt hasn't been sold. This is the case for apartment managers that are trying to collect from a debtor. If the debt isn't sold to the collection agency they can't collect extra fees, but when it is sold the debt continues to grow from added fees.

You have redress for any abusive tactics the collection agency may use to collect the debt because there are laws that they have to go by. The main law is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Some states also have debt collection laws.

Be warned that because they have laws they legally must adhere to they don't always act within the law, when they're trying to collect from you. They may try illegal tactics like calling passed 9 o'clock at night. That means 9 o'clock your time. Some agencies call from a different state and time zone than yours. Collection agencies collecting for credit card debt and unpaid student loans are a good example.

Another example of illegal tactics is calling and hanging up. They also are required to tell you that this is an attempt to collect a debt and that any information acquired will be used for that purpose. There are other laws they have to follow like refraining from calling an excessive amount of times with the intent to harass. They also are prohibited from using foul language or abusing you physically.

Remember that when you know the laws that protect you as a debtor, you can use them to stop any harassment that the collection agency is perpetrating against you.