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New watchdog group to crack down on creditor harassment

Are you tired of dealing with collection agencies? If so, you're not alone; more than 30 million consumers in the U.S. are the targets of collection agencies. As you may already be aware, some of their tactics go beyond annoying: Many bill collectors have been known to use aggressive and abusive tactics.

One man claims he receives calls from bill collectors as many as 20 times a day for debts that aren't even his but belong to the person who previously lived in his house. Despite three lawsuits to make them stop calling, the calls continue. A Federal Trade Commission spokesman says some collection agencies frequently use profanity or violent or abusive threats in their attempts to collect debts. Some will threaten to issue arrest warrants to intimidate consumers into paying.

The FTC says collection agencies receive more complaints than any other business, with more than 150,000 complaints last year. But there may be hope for some people struggling with consumer debt and creditor harassment problems. A new federal agency, which started in January, will be policing some of the nation's largest collection agencies to prevent consumer abuse. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will work to be sure that only accurate data is used with firms that attempt to collect debts -- and harassing and threatening behavior will not be allowed.

It's good that consumers with outstanding credit card debt may soon find relief from collection agencies' bullying tactics. This new agency, along with options such as filing for bankruptcy, may make it easier for people to get back on their feet after suffering financial challenges.

Source: WFLX-TV, "Help with debt collection harassment," Rachel Leigh, Feb. 20, 2013

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