Diversified Consultants Inc. or DCI is a third-party debt collection agency that specializes in the telecom industry. Usually, they seek payments from accounts that are related to landlines, wireless connections, satellite, and cable services for phones, televisions, internet access, utilities, and securities as well.
They offer a wide range of debt collection solutions to their clients, which include;
Proactive outbound/inbound voice and digital solutions.
Diversified range of custom, accounts receivable management solutions.
Debt collectors tend to be aggressive while collecting from delinquent accounts, and they will go above and beyond by using all sorts of tactics that are at times considered unethical, and even though the moto for DCI is Legal, Moral and Ethical, they have been reported more than once, for being too aggressive.
I am highlighting Diversified Consultants Inc., so you can best understand how to deal with debt collectors. You may first be tempted to ignore their calls, but that is never the right move, and if you do not answer, they will simply keep calling and even sending emails.
In addition, a debt collector can still sell off your debt to another collector, who will start the process all over again. So, the best advice would be to speak with them and try to come to an agreement about the debt.
Other than that, I have given you some ideas on your immediate course of action when the first contact you.
So, is DCI legit?
This is a legitimate debt collection company that has over 900 employees and whose motto is “Legal, Moral and Ethical.”
Their offices are located in Jacksonville, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.
The BBB rating represents the Better Business Bureau’s opinion of how the business interacts with its clients. It is based on the information received by the public concerning the company, and this involves complaints as well.
BBB assigns different ratings as per the information they receive, the highest being an A+ and the lowest an F.
An A rating, therefore, means that the DCI has been interacting well with their clients. However, there have still been many issues raised about them. The BBB has already registered more than 1,000 complaints against the company.
These complaints included; Billing/collections issues, violations of the debtors’ rights, and also advertising/sales issues.
Additionally, Justia – the American company that specializes in legal information retrieval lists 37 cases against DCI that have been filed with the federal court in 2018, which allege violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and also violations of the telephone consumer protection act.
If a debt collector has never called you, you may wonder what it means to be harassed. You are also probably unaware of your rights, which I shall discuss later on in details.
Basically, if DCI is doing any of the following, it means that you are being harassed, and you need to take action.
Your harassment checklist;
Receiving multiple calls per week from DCI.
Receiving early morning calls before 8 am and late-night calls after 9 pm.
Being called at work by DCI.
If DCI is calling your friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
If they are threatening you with a lawsuit, violence, or arrest.
If they are attempting to collect from you more than you owe.
If they are threatening you with a negative credit report.
If they are trying to intimidate you.
If they are making criminal accusations towards you.
If they have been using an obscene language in an attempt to collect.
If they are making automated robocalls to your phone to collect.
You must understand that you HAVE RIGHTS! And you can sue such a collection company if they have violated your rights.
How do you deal with DCI?
If DCI has been hounding you and seeking payment on a debt that you owe and using annoying tactics that are almost predatory or even illegal, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us, and the best thing to do is to understand how you can deal with debt collectors.
The points below will help you assert your rights when debt collectors contact you and give you tips on how to best manage your debt.
1. Don’t pay anything:
The first and most crucial point is that you do not pay anything yet. If you know that you should never enter into a contract without first understanding the terms, then you must not rush into making a payment to a debt collector. You need to take time and go through all of your options.
So, my first advice is; don’t pay, do not give any payment information to the debt collector, and don’t promise to pay. Yet.
Many people are usually ashamed of having a debt, and this is what the debt collector will prey on.
They will create an urgency of payment and prey on your pain points to get you to give them something at the end of the day. If you owe $5,000 or even $50,000, they don’t care that you shall pay it all off, as long as you pay a part of it. This will work towards their quota.
Don’t even give them any payment information as they can use this against you in the future. First, you must ask them to furnish you with more information about the debt, so you can call them back and discuss payment options with them later on.
If you happen to make a payment of even $5 or $10, it will be an acknowledgment of the debt and shall have some severe repercussions in the future.
Also, if the debt is past the statute of limitations, making a payment on it will reset the clock and could lead to a lawsuit or wage garnishment.
The statute of limitation refers to the amount of time you are legally responsible for repaying a debt. Generally, the required length of time is seven years from the last activity on that account. Once this time window runs out, then following the statute rules, the debt is legally forgiven. In other words, what we are saying is that your responsibility on the debt ends there.
This is also the time in which the debt is removed from your credit report.
Garnishing wages is the process of withholding a portion of your paycheck to send it to the debt collectors. It is illegal for debt collectors to make empty threats to sue or garnish your wages. It is also unlikely that DCI would sue you for a debt that you do not owe, or cannot validate.
However, debt collection agencies have been known to summon debtors to court and garnish their wages after a default judgment. Contacting an attorney before going to court is always a good idea, so they can help you fight the charges.
The reason why I am advising that you should not pay the debt before verifying its validity is that it may actually not belong to you at all. These debt collection agencies scour the internet, online databases, and phone books looking for addresses of everyone with the same name as you, and then they start sending them threatening letters. They send these to everyone!
So, just because you have received a letter from a collection agency, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a valid claim against you, and it may be completely erroneous.
Remember that they usually purchase debt from other companies, and they can easily get mixed up. They may not have proper documentation either, or they may be contacting the wrong person altogether.
2. Gather all the facts:
Creditors usually sell off loans to third party debt collectors, and if these debt collectors are unable to collect on the loan, they might sell them off to yet another debt collector, and another one, and another one, and so on.
Record keeping often falls by the wayside during these many sell-offs, and as such, many sold debts tend to have errors on the amounts owed and even who owns them.
Therefore, debt collection practices tend to have the largest customer complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
In 2016, the CFPB had more than 88,000 complaints, and one of the chief complaints was consumers being asked to pay off a debt they did not owe.
Requesting a debt validation letter from DCI should be your first response to their calls and emails. This is a letter that gives you clear information and details of the debt, the creditor who reported it, and all supporting documentation that will prove that you did indeed take out the debt.
Gather your own records and documents concerning the debt and compare what you have with what you have received. You must ensure you have information on the original creditor and any history of payments so far.
Ensure to keep all records of communication with the debt collector, including all phone calls, and the person to whom you spoke with. If you are to reply to any of their queries through the mail, use certified mail.
3. Know your rights:
This is one of the most crucial points when dealing with debt collectors. The FDCPA or Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is your friend on all things debts. The law is clearly outlined and tells you what your rights as a consumer are. These rights should shield you from predatory collections tactics.
They include the following;
You have a right to specify when and how the debt collectors should contact you, and you can also instruct them to cease all communication altogether. Debt collectors are prohibited from using any profane or obscene language when speaking with you.
Debt collectors should never mislead you about who they are, how much you owe, or the legal repercussions of not paying the debt. E.g., they cannot threaten you with arrest.
Challenging the debt:
You have the right to dispute a debt. If you challenge the debt, the debt collector should provide you with valid evidence of ownership of said debt within 30 days.
You can also file a complaint with the CFPB if your rights under the FDCPA have been violated. The state you live in should offer you additional consumer protections. Check with the legal aid in your area or the state attorney’s office to understand what these rights are.
Understand your federal and state protections in the debt collection process. Your state attorney general and the federal trade commission are excellent resources.
A summary of all your rights:
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a legislation that was passed by Congress to regulate the debt collection industry. This act consists of laws and guidelines that all debt collections agencies must follow to ensure that they do not violate the rights of the consumer.
Here are some of their rules on debt collectors;
They prohibit the use of harmful and unfair tactics when trying to collect a debt.
They should not contact anybody who is not the main person that owes the debt.
They shouldn’t threaten you with referral to an attorney, wage garnishment, or harm your credit without an actual intent or act on the threat.
They should not call you at unreasonable times, such as before 8 am, or after 9 pm.
They should not contact you at your place of work if you have specifically asked them not to do so.
They should not place calls to inform on you to your employer or disclose any aspect of your debt to others.
They should not use profane or obscene language during their calls.
They should not send collection letters which appear to be from a government office or a court.
They should not threaten to arrest you if the debt remains unpaid.
In short, it says debt collectors are required to be honest, up-front, and not deceptive. Additionally, it says debt collectors are supposed to treat you with that modicum of respect and dignity that every human being deserves. And yes, the FDCPA is violated just about as often as our drug laws in this country.
You must never feel victimized by a debt collector. This is the reason why I am highlighting debt collection companies and how you should deal with them. In addition, it is essential to understand your rights.
Did you know that if your rights are violated, you can sue the debt collection company that violated these rights and receive up to $1,000 in damages? Did you know that you can ask them to stop harassing you with phone calls? Did you know that you can negotiate a repayment plan with a debt collector?
These are some of the rights you have, and options you can choose from when dealing with debt collectors.
I hope this helps, but, I always say that the best way to avoid this unnecessary experience with a debt collector is to ensure that you pay your debts on time, and also ensure that you try to live within your means, so you do not end up in debt.