If debt collectors have ever hounded you over a debt, then, it is good if you know and understand what rights you have, and which government body protects you against violations by unscrupulous debt collection agencies, because the experience is never a pleasant one.
The body that is responsible for your protection is the FDCPA or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
This is the act that was passed by congress to ensure that you are well protected. It also allows you to fight back against anyone that violates your rights.
This is the best weapon to use against debt collectors, and in this review, I will give you insights into the ERC collections company.
It is a debt collection agency that works on behalf of its clients. I will help you understand how they work and what you can do if they ever contact you.
Let us begin.
Who are they?
ERC, which is also known as Enhance Resource Center, is a huge company, based in Jacksonville, Florida, and has over 1,000 employees.
The company does not purchase debts, but creditors and debt buyers usually contract them to help in collections.
It is, therefore, a legitimate debt collection company that collects many unique debts such as telecommunications, student loans, utility, cable, and bank card debt.
They employ many different tactics, such as; telephone calls, demand letters, CRB adverse reporting, and lawsuits.
Better Business Bureau Rating (BBB):
They have a B rating on the BBB website, and they have received more than 1,200 complaints against them from consumers, who claim that they did not follow the correct procedures while trying to collect from them, plus, they claim that their rights, under the FDCPA were violated.
One of the most potent tools that consumers have is FDCPA rights. Under these rights, you have a reason not to pay a debt unless the debt collector has validated it.
This means that the debt collector must show proof, without a shadow of a doubt that you do owe the debt they want you to pay.
Have they been harassing you?
If you have been dealing with ERC and you feel harassed, you must understand your rights as a consumer. Many of these rights have been granted under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), as I mentioned above.
Here are signs that they are harassing you;
If you are receiving multiple calls each week from ERC.
If you are being called either late at night or very early in the morning.
If ERC has been calling your friends, coworkers, and neighbors and telling them about your debts.
If ERC has been threatening you with adverse credit reporting.
If they have attempted to collect more than you owe.
If they have been making criminal accusations against you.
If automated robocalls are being made on your phone in an attempt to collect from you.
If they are using an obscene language when talking to you.
If they have been making attempts to intimidate you.
If they are disguising the fact that they are debt collectors trying to collect a debt
If they are pretending to be attorneys, police officers, or federal agents
If they are threatening to report false information to the credit bureaus
If they are demanding amounts that are inflated by ‘service charges.’
What can you do if you are being harassed?
Federal laws protect you from this type of harassment. 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.
As a consumer, you must be aware of your rights to protect yourself from harassment and intimidation from debt collectors.
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.
Here’s the rub: If you want to enforce your rights or recover money for violations, you shall be forced to sue. If the debt collection company has not followed the rules and regulations stipulated by the FDCPA, then you must collect as much evidence as you possibly can, and take them to court.
These laws provide individuals like you with a means to seek monetary damages in court. For example, the FDCPA allows consumers who have been violated to recover damages up to $1,000, plus the debt collector will pay for your attorney fees and any court costs.
Point to note:
Avoid what most people do and pay off collections, with the belief that this is how to improve your credit score. It makes logical sense, but it’s not reality.
The only thing that happens when you pay off a collection is that the status of the item is changed on your credit report. It’ll go from an outstanding collection to a paid collection.
A paid collection is still a negative item, and it’s going to cause you to have a low credit score. Anthony Sprauve, a spokesman for FICO, says a collection on your credit reports can damage your score by up to 100 points.
It’s true a paid collection, is slightly better than an unpaid collection, but they’re both going to damage your creditworthiness. Further, this is exactly what Southwest Credit and every debt collector want you to do, pay collections.
How can you sue a debt collector?
Now that you understand your rights, it is important to know how you can protect yourself if a debt collector ever violates these rights.
As I said previously, the FDCPA allows you to take a debt collector to court and win some money in form of damages.
You must however be very honest when you sue debt collectors for violations as each violations is liable up to $1,000, which is awarded to you.
In addition to suing them, you can also bring about changes and make other consumer’s lives much better, once the collector understands that they cannot behave as they wish, and that they must follow the rules as they have been laid out.
Reasons for suing;
The original creditor;
If he reports inaccurate information on your credit report.
If you dispute a debt and they fail to report it as disputed.
A credit bureau:
If they refuse to correct information after being provided proof.
If they re-report an item that’s been removed from your credit report without notifying you in writing within five business days.
If they fail to respond to your written dispute within 30 days (a 15-day extension may be granted if they receive information from the creditor within the first 30 days).
A debt collector:
They try to be both the purchaser of an account or the assignee. It’s one or the other.
They misrepresent themselves or the debt they are attempting to collect on.
They try to re-age your account by updating the date of last activity on your credit report to try to keep negative information on your account longer.
They fail to report a disputed debt to the credit bureaus.
They do not validate a debt yet continue collection activity by filing for a judgment. They are also not allowed to call or write to you while the debt is in the validation process.
They still call you even after you’ve sent them a cease and desist letter.
They continue to report a debt to the credit bureaus that they have not validated.
They call you before 8 am or after 9 pm or if they call you at work.
They call your friends, neighbors, relatives of any third party about your debt besides an attorney, credit reporting agency, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.
They harass you or use abusive language.
They threaten to garnish your wages.
Removing the ERC collections from your credit report:
This can only be done by disputing the entry on your credit report. For the negative item to be removed entirely from your credit report, you must engage some dispute procedures which will lead to a cleanup of your report.
To do this, we’ll need to exercise more of your consumer rights, this time, those granted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
You may think that the wisest decision if a debt collector calls you would be to ignore the call and not pay the debt as you wait for the statute of limitation to expire, so you are no longer liable, but that is not right. You may end up in more trouble than you could ever imagine.
What happens if you do not pay the debt that has been validated is that the debt collector can either sell off the debt to another collections company, or sue you for the balance of the debt, and if they receive a summary judgment in a court of law, they can garnish your wages, or seize your assets, or put a lien on your property.
The best thing to do would to enter into negotiations with the company and come up with a repayment plan and understand how you can be able to reduce the amount that you owe so you can start the process of improving your credit report.