|By PR Newswire||
|February 28, 2014 12:47 PM EST||
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ACA International members applaud the Federal Trade Commission's National Consumer Protection Week, March 2-8, 2014 and encourages consumers to visit AskDoctorDebt.org for free information to better understand debt collection and their rights. Many consumers are being contacted by third-party debt collectors to resolve duly owed financial obligations.
According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of consumer debt in the United States now exceeds $11.5 trillion. Whether a mortgage, medical bill, student loan, auto loan or credit card debt; the repayment of consumer and business credit is vital to the national, state and local economies. Based on a recent study by Ernst & Young, third-party debt collectors recovered $55 billion in 2010 on behalf of creditor, health care, government and other clients.
"Engaging third party debt collectors to recover these debts helps reduce the cost of goods and services, allows affordable credit to be available, reduces the need for future tax increases," ACA International CEO Pat Morris said. "It's not only the non-profit and private sectors that benefit from debt collection. Federal, state, and local government also rely on the repayment of billions of taxpayer owed dollars in delinquencies including uncollected court fees, unpaid taxes, library fines, and traffic tickets."
Morris added that harassment, threats and other illegal activity are unacceptable and violators must be held accountable. ACA members are working with regulators, Congress and state leaders to ensure a balanced debt collection system that protects consumers and allows the legitimate collection of debt to function.
Consumers have important rights under federal and state law.
- Respect. Expect to be treated respectfully. Consumers can't be harassed, threatened with actions by a debt collector that they don't intend to take or be subjected to profanity and vulgar language.
- Identify. Ask for identification. Debt collectors cannot call anonymously nor can they present themselves as representing a government entity. When contacted, collectors must identify themselves and the name of the agency they represent.
- Communicate. Consumers can ask to cease all communication or ignore attempted contacts. However, avoiding contact with a creditor or debt collector will not erase a debt. Communicate to discuss the account, verify its accuracy and work on a plan for resolution. If you don't owe the debt, communicating with them can help put a stop to calls or letters. Not communicating may lead to potentially non-consumer friendly activities such as credit reporting or legal action.
- Validate. Collectors are not interested in pursuing a debt that isn't owed. By law, the collector must inform you of your right to dispute the debt and request written verification if requested. Once sought, all collection activity stops until this proof is provided.
- Protect. Do not confirm or provide sensitive personal information (e.g., Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank accounts) until certain of the authenticity of the debt and the person collecting.
ACA International is the comprehensive, knowledge-based resource for the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together nearly 5,000 members in the United States and abroad, and their more than 300,000 employees, including third-party collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates.
Contact: Mark Schiffman, PR Director
Tel. (952) 259-2124 or [email protected]
SOURCE ACA International