A man's word is his bound, unless you are a debt collector who has seen many a man vanished into thin air at the mere sight of you, claim to be out of town over the phone while you are just three tables away, or flat out deny their identity in the presence of their nana. Then, that word is worth all the sand in the desert.
And those are the easy ones.
Bomb scares, death threats, and human waste in the mail, the debt collection industry is one that can throw the worst humanity has to offer in one’s face in the same breath as it says “Hello”.
Give Me Some Credit...
Either way you slice it, debt collection is a tightrope walk across a knife edge. No matter how helpful a debt collector may present themselves, a debt past due is never a healthy sign for the status of the debt and the state of the debtor. Yet, there was an agreement in place that should be honoured - should have been honoured without the intervention of a debt collector. While it’s easy to ascribe blame to the debtor for allowing an agreement to lapse, the truth is that debt collection is anything but straightforward.
According to a press release by the Federal Trade Commission, the debt collection industry generates the most ire, saying:
“Debt collectors generate more complaints to the FTC than any other industry. Although many debt collectors are careful to comply with consumer protection laws, others engage in illegal conduct. Some collectors harass and threaten consumers, demand larger payments than the law allows, refuse to verify disputed debts, and disclose debts to consumers’ employers, co-workers, family members, and friends. Debt collection abuses cause harms that financially vulnerable consumers can ill afford. Many consumers pay collectors money they do not owe and fall deeper into debt, while others suffer invasions of their privacy, job loss, and domestic instability”
However, the rise in complaints doesn’t translate into increased inhumanity or criminality as Hollywood would have us believe, rather it’s due to a liberal application of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which states that debt collectors cannot:
Call the debtor before 8am or after 9pm: Simple to understand, tricky to execute due to time zone differences
Call the debtor at work, knowing that the debtor’s employer doesn’t approve of phone calls: Knowing has always been a problem for debt collector
Hide their identity while calling the debtor
Threaten, harass, oppress, or abuse the debtor
Lying or falsely imply that the debtor has falsely committed a crime
Employ unfair methods in order to collect a debt
Ignoring a written request from the debtor to stop contacting them
Armed with these, it’s no wonder debtors will use any legal authority at their disposal to lash back at those whom they perceive as trying to kick them while they are down.
It shouldn’t be so.
“None of us know what a consumer is facing in their own circumstances” Alan Harries, a 31-years veteran of the industry, stated in a recent interview. “They might have lost a job, gone through a divorce. There’s no way of knowing why an account hasn’t been paid until you talk to them.”
Michelle Dunn, another veteran debt collector, echoed similar sentiment in a recent piece on huffpost, saying:
"When somebody's in debt and they have bill collectors calling them, that's not their only problem. They normally have something else going on," Dunn said. "The last thing you need is a bill collector calling you. They may lash out on you. I've had people tell me they were going to find where my children went to school. Most people who are bill collectors, they don't take happiness in yelling at people. They don't get into this business because they have to be mean to people."
We believe that a fastest, cost-effective, and transparent debt collection system that eliminates the friction created by third-parties is the solution to this problem. This solution is what we are developing at Joos Protocol.