A story we have heard a few times recently regarding collector threats deals with them advising the
consumer that they are going to mark down that the consumer is refusing to pay the debt. The story usually starts with the collector calling and attempting to procure payment of the entire debt. Most consumers in the current economic status of this country are unable to pay off an entire account at once – after all, the account would not have been in collections in the first place.
The consumer, wanting to pay off the debt, attempts to make a request for a payment plan so that it can be paid off in increments. The collector refuses, and tells the consumer that they have to pay the debt in full. After some haggling, perhaps the consumer gets the collector to budge and accept a payment plan. However, the plan is wholly unreasonable and calls for the consumer to come up with two or three times the amount they can afford. Still the consumer works at trying to lower the payment amount.
The collector then states: “If you do not pay this in full, we are going to report that you are refusing to pay.” This threat conjures up an impression to the consumer that something bad is going to happen. Many people believe that this means that the file is getting turned over to a lawyer who will sue because the consumer refuses to pay. From our experience, this threat has been quite bothersome to consumers who claim that they never refused to pay, and don’t want to be treated as if they refuse (because they believe the consequences to be worse). They just want to pay it off.
This threat may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §1692e, and subsection 1692e(8) in particular. This particular section states that a collector cannot report or threaten to report, to any person any credit information that is false or that should be known to be false. By threatening to communicate to a creditor that the consumer refuses to pay, the debt collector is threatening to report something false. It is credit information – a persons ability or propensity to pay debts, and it is false, as the consumer has made their desire to pay clear. Moreover, though many collectors believe otherwise, nothing in this section states that the credit information has to be reported to a credit reporting agency.
Rather, it just states that the false information needs to be reported to any “person”. Therefore, the threat
to report that a consumer refuses to pay a debt when the consumer has done no such thing presents a potential case under the FDCPA.
When you’re being pursued by debt collectors, you have rights, and we’re here to help. SmithMarco, P.C. has been protecting consumer rights since 2005. If you feel that you’re rights have been violated, please contact us for a free case review.