Are they "Trick Questions" or Valid Inquires? Debt Collectors Beware!

In a recent audio blog post on insideARM.com titled Do Consumers Really "Trick" Debt Collectors Into FDCPA Violations, two attorneys argued that some questions are designed to "trick" debt collectors into breaking the law.

But these questions are so basic, and if any collector can't give a truthful answer (or at least deny knowledge of the truthful answer) to any one of them, they deserve to be confronted with a lawsuit. Debt collectors are required to comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Period. If they do not, they are subject to liability under this federal statute. If collection agencies fail to provide basic FDCPA training, that is their problem.

Some alleged "trick questions" include the following:

1. Do I have to send you anything in writing?

Collectors consider this "tricky" because the answer may call for application of basic FDCPA knowledge. Some demands are required to be in writing -- others are not. Learn which ones are so you don't break the law.

2. How long do I have to pay you?

Collectors consider this "tricky" because different collectors may give different discretionary answers thus open themselves up to claims of "deceptive" or "misleading" communications. But if the conversation is handled right, and communications are recorded – as they should be – collectors can easily conduct themselves lawfully and be able to prove it.

3. How much is the interest rate? When did you start charging that rate? How much of this amount is interest vs. principal?

How are these basic questions "tricky?" The collectors are required to know this to avoid breaking another section of the FDCPA: attempting to collect amounts not owed.

4. Will you take legal action against me? Will you garnish my wages?

Again, these are perfectly valid questions. Collectors can't threaten action they do not intend to take. Why can't consumers gauge the collectors' legal intention? The only ones being tricky are the authors of this blog.

5. When will this debt come off my credit report? Will it come off my credit report if I pay?

If collectors do not know the answers, why can't they just say so? That's a lawful response. Debt collection conduct and credit reporting work hand in hand, and consumers have every right to ask credit reporting questions. Our experience shows that many debt collectors give false statements in this area to trick the consumer.

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