This year, America's enormous, poorly regulated debt collection industry will make more than 1,000,000,000 collection calls. They will threaten. They will lie and mislead. They will intimidate. Over the past five years, they've racked up more than 300,000 complaints to the Federal Trade Commission: more than any other industry regulated by the FTC. Financial reporter Fred Williams knows more about the industry than anyone else. Not only has investigated America's debt collection agencies, he spent three months working for one of the largest firms in the business. In Fight Back Against Unfair Debt Collection Practices Williams reveals what he learned and shows you exactly how to fight back and protect your rights. Williams weaves indispensable practical advice together with stories straight from his collection agency cubicle. You'll learn what to do first if a collector calls; what collectors can and can't do; which debts you are and aren't responsible for; how collectors choose accounts to focus on; how to stop harassing or abusive calls; how to keep the advantage in a negotiation for a lucrative debt settlement; even how to take the offensive with a lawsuit that can halt collection and win yourself a $1,000 penalty!
Go inside America's debt collection industry: discover how it really works, and learn how you can fight back!
Part 1: Debt Collection Secrets 9
Chapter 1: Lessons in Deception 11
Chapter 2: Credit Is King 23
Chapter 3: Anger Can Be Power 31
Chapter 4: Closeout: “No Tomorrow” 41
Chapter 5: The Shakedown Industry 47
Chapter 6: PIF Means Payment in Full 61
Chapter 7: Payday, the Tables Turn 69
Chapter 8: Debtors' Rebellion 73
Chapter 9: Debt for Sale 83
Chapter 10: The Golden Rule: Money Today 89
Chapter 11: Strengths and Weaknesses 93
Chapter 12: Collector of the Week 103
Chapter 13: Retention 111
Chapter 14: A Complaint 115
Chapter 15: Data Minefield 121
Chapter 16: Graduation Day 127
Chapter 17: On the Floor 133
Chapter 18: NLE Means No Longer Employed 145
Chapter 19: Solutions 157
Part 2: Coping With Collections 161
Chapter 20: Stopping Collection Calls 163
Chapter 21: Checking Out a Collector 167
Chapter 22: Using Collection Law 171
Chapter 23: Reading Your Credit Reports 177
Chapter 24: Preparing a Complaint 183
Chapter 25: Negotiating a Debt Settlement 189
This year, America's enormous debt collection industry will make 1,000,000,000 collection calls. They will threaten. Lie. Mislead. Intimidate. Award-winning reporter Fred Williams went “undercover” inside one of its largest firms. Now, he reveals everything he learned-and shows exactly how to fight back and protect your rights.
A business journalist for most of the past 24 years, Fred Williams has written about debt collection for Kiplinger's Personal Finance and for The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, where he started covering the industry in 1999. He undertook a six-month research project on the industry in 2006, supported by the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism at The Ohio State University.
In 2008, he worked as a debt collector for 11 weeks at a collection agency near Buffalo.
Fred graduated from Binghamton University in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is careful to pay his entire credit card balance each month.