An Egregious Collector

Cheryl is calling because a collection agency is about to start garnishing her husband's wages and placing fraud charges against him. Dave tells the collector is violating federal law.

QUESTION: Cheryl in Nashville is calling because a collection agency is about to start garnishing his her husband’s wages and placing fraud charges against him. Dave tells Cheryl they’re dealing with a scummy collection agency, and the collector is violating federal law.

ANSWER: Those are both lies. He’s dealing with a collection agency that is scum, and they just broke federal law. There’s no fraud involved. Did your husband lie, cheat, or steal in the transaction that was done? If not, then there’s no fraud involved. Threatening criminal fraud as a collector is a violation of federal law. If you have a fraud case and you’re a collector, you’re supposed to just take it to the district attorney and have them put the person in jail. You cannot threaten a criminal result for a civil action. That’s called extortion in most states. You’re dealing with the scum barrel here—bottom of the barrel.

The divorce decree makes him liable for half. If she decides to go down and do a $300,000 procedure on one of the kids without asking you, he’s liable for half under this divorce decree. That’s the problem you’ve got. He is liable on this debt, but they’re not going to garnish his wages. They haven’t sued him. They can’t garnish wages in Tennessee until they’ve sued you. As a matter of fact, they can’t garnish wages in any state until they’ve sued you unless they’re the IRS or a student loan, and they’re neither one of those. You cannot prosecute someone criminally for fraud for not paying a bill in any state, and threatening to do so is a violation of federal law. You are dealing with a collector that every time they move their mouth, they’re lying.

This is one of the more egregious ones I’ve heard in a while. This is really bad. The only reasons your palms need to be sweating is to figure out how badly you’re going to sue this company for their federal law that they just broke. Your palms don’t need to be sweating from fear but instead from anger. The deal is that your husband may owe half of this medical bill by the divorce decree. He probably doesn’t have a legal liability, but probably his ex-wife could drag him into court and make him pay half of it. If she has promised that she is going to pay it, I would just lean on her, and the next time the collector calls, tell them to kiss your butt and hang up on them. They’re morons, and they’re not going to sue you on a medical bill from California to Tennessee in a million years.

You only need written proof of the debt if you’re settling it. You don’t even care on this one, especially with the way they misbehave. Tell them if they threaten that stuff again that we’re going to file suit on them for $10 million and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission because of their misbehavior. Tell them you talked to your financial counselor, and they violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which they did.

Just chill. All you’ve got here is an idiot in a cubicle 500 miles away who has no power. That’s what you’re dealing with. Don’t get all torqued out with people like that.

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