Debt Collectors Descend Upon Seniors–Thousands Complain to the CFPB

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We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

It seems like seniors are constantly being bombarded by products and practices that try to separate them from their money.  If it’s not another pitch for a reverse mortgage or an insurance product they might not need, it could be a phony debt collector trying to scare someone into paying for a debt they do not owe.

Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued some sobering news:  If you are an older American and you’re having trouble with debt collectors, you’re not alone.  The agency noted that since July 2013, older Americans have submitted approximately 8,700 complaints to them about debt collection.

What’s worse, the complaints paint a picture of a debt collection industry that is pursuing seniors for the wrong reasons.  Their top collection complaint is that debt collectors attempt to collect debts that consumers do not owe, do not recognize, or believe are wrong.  The second most common complaint is about the collectors’ communication tactics, including threats to garnish federal benefits of the senior being targeted.

The CFPB is looking out for seniors who are being harassed by debt collectors.  The agency has offered four excellent tips on things older Americans can do about debt collection problems.  In a nutshell, these are:

  1. Get more information if you don’t recognize the debt
  2. Dispute the debt if it’s not yours or if the amount is wrong
  3. Put a stop to harassing and/or offensive calls
  4. Know your rights; Your federal benefits have many protections from garnishment in collection.

For more details about how you can make the most of each of these ways to protect yourself, see this CFPB blog post.

Don’t forget, if you are being harassed by a debt collector, you should complain to the CFPB either online or by calling ((855) 411-2372. The CFPB will forward your issue to the company and work to get you a response, give you a tracking number, and keep you updated on the status of your complaint.

And while you’re at it, let us know if you have been wrongly hounded by debt collectors.  Share your story with us.

 

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