How to File a Complaint Against a Collection Agency
Updated: Nov 1
Debt collection agencies play an important role in the economy, but they can also be aggressive and unfair in their dealings with consumers. If you have been harassed or mistreated by a collection agency, you have the right to file a complaint.
The Role of Debt Collection Agencies
Debt collection agencies operate with the primary aim of recovering legitimate debts on behalf of their clients, the creditors. These agencies act as intermediaries, working to ensure that creditors receive the money owed to them by consumers. When they reach out to you, it's typically an indication of an outstanding payment linked to your name, either knowingly or unknowingly. It's crucial to remember that professional debt collection agencies aren’t in the business of harassment but of resolution.
When to File a Complaint
Despite the best intentions of many debt collection agencies, there are instances where they might overstep their boundaries. If after your investigation, you genuinely believe you're being scammed, mistreated, or treated unlawfully, that's when you should consider taking action.
Before Filing a Complaint
Before filing a complaint against a debt collection agency, it's important to conduct thorough research. Begin by reaching out to the agency that contacted you. Seek clarity on the underlying debt they're referring to, inquire about its origins, and explore potential resolutions. By doing this, you're taking a proactive approach, which can often lead to a beneficial resolution for both parties.
Where to File a Complaint
There are a number of different agencies where you can file a complaint against a collection agency. The most common agencies include:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): This federal agency regulates consumer financial products and services, including debt collection practices.
Better Business Bureau: An organization that helps resolve disputes between businesses and their customers.
State Attorney General's Office: Many states have consumer protection units that specifically investigate complaints against debt collection agencies.
Licensing Authority: Depending on your state, there may be a specific licensing authority for debt collection agencies.
Make Sure Everything's Included
Your name and contact information
The name and contact information of the collection agency
A detailed description of your complaint
Any supporting documentation, such as copies of letters or emails from the collection agency
The agency you file your complaint with will investigate your complaint and take appropriate action. If the agency finds that the collection agency violated the law, they may take action against the agency, such as ordering them to pay you damages or refunding any money you paid them.
Here are some additional tips for filing a complaint against a collection agency:
Be as specific as possible in your complaint. Explain what the collection agency did wrong and how it has harmed you.
Provide any supporting documentation you have, such as copies of letters or emails from the collection agency.
Keep a copy of your complaint and any other documentation you submit.
Follow up with the agency you filed your complaint with to check on the status of your investigation.
If you are not sure how to file a complaint, you can contact a consumer protection organization for assistance.
Here are some examples of things that collection agencies cannot do:
Call you before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM
Call you at work if your employer has prohibited them from doing so
Call you repeatedly, especially if you have asked them to stop
Threaten to arrest you or sue you
Lie to you about the amount of debt you owe or the consequences of not paying
Collect debts that have already been paid or that are beyond the statute of limitations
If a collection agency is doing any of these things, you should file a complaint against them. By doing so, you can help to protect yourself and other consumers from unfair debt collection practices.