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Fighting back against unethical collections tactics

All across the country people deal with accounts going into collections. Asset forfeiture affects everyone, even musicians, many of whom have strong ties to the industry right here in Memphis. Recently, however, one legendary musician decided to fight back against an overzealous debt collector.

While there are not a lot of details, what has been confirmed is that someone who had won a contract dispute with Prince had hired a debt collection firm. The judgment against Prince was overturned in 2011, however, thereby voiding it. But apparently that fact was not enough to deter the collection agency, who Prince claims withdrew money from his account twice, totaling $116,000, in June of this year. As such, Prince is suing the collection firm for a return of his money, plus interest.

While debt collectors often act in ruthless ways, there are in fact special rules that govern the way that a collector communicates with debtors. The collection agency and the agent cannot use the collection process to harass the debtor. The collection agent cannot use foul or profane language when calling the debtor. The agent cannot misrepresent themselves or state that they are a law enforcement agent. Further, they cannot call at times that are inconvenient for the debtor. They must not call before 8 am and cannot call after 9 pm. If the debtor's employer has a no collection calls policy, they cannot call the debtor at their place of work.

The collection agent must also refrain from speaking to any debtor who has retained legal counsel to represent them. The agent must also refrain from talking to any third party about the debtor.

If a debtor declares bankruptcy, the collection agency is no longer allowed to call. For some people bankruptcy is a good way to get collection agencies to stop calling. It also allows for the debtor to take an opportunity to work with the creditors to develop a repayment plan and to reorganize their debts. A debtor confused about the process or otherwise facing financial challenges should turn to a lawyer who is well versed in the laws governing collection agencies and who can assist the debtor.

Source: insideARM.com, "Prince sues collection agency for $116,000," Patrick Lunsford, Oct. 22, 2012

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