Almost everyone at one point or another has fallen behind on their bills and has found themselves in debt. Debts will land you on the receiving end of a debt collector’s call. This is not a pleasant experience.
Debt collection is what we call a ‘necessary evil’ because creditors will do anything they can to recover what is owed them.
CBE Group is a third party debt collection agency that is located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. They have been in the business since 1933.
They collect on a wide range of debts, which includes; Credit card debts, telecommunications, student loan debt, and healthcare.
Recently, they partnered with the Internal Revenue Authority (IRS) to collect on overdue federal taxes. It is one of only four companies to work with the IRS.
Is CBE Group a scam?
No, CBE is not a scam.
Because they deal with the IRS debts as well, most people tend to assume that they are receiving phone calls from a fake company. But CBE group is not a scam, but a legitimate third-party debt collection company that has been in operation for a long time.
It is, however, essential for you to know their contact information so you can ensure that you are receiving a call from the right company.
The CBE Group Inc. has an A+ rating on the BBB website.
But regardless of their rating, there have still been numerous complaints lodged against this company, where most of the customers complained that they violated their rights. The BBB has on record more than 255 complaints against CBE group, of which, 89 of them have already been closed.
In 2017, Justia – the legal cases website, had 67 pending cases against the CBE group. These were lawsuits that were in court already.
Why would CBE Group Contact you?
A debt collector such as CBE will only contact you if you have a past-due bill that you have failed to pay and if the creditor has failed to collect from you.
What happens is that debt collection companies usually buy off past due debts at a subsidized rate, and then they try to collect the debts on their behalf, while making a profit in the process.
How can you best deal with a debt collector?
Dealing with debt collectors can be difficult, especially if it is your first time encountering them. Here are some tips that can help you;
Do not ignore their calls
Hanging up on debt collectors is never a good idea. They will simply keep calling and calling and sending emails; eventually, if they cannot collect from you, they shall sell your debt off to another debt collector, who will do the same thing they did.
Also, if you think that letting the debt sit for a long time will help them forgive you, you are wrong. What will happen if you do not engage them with a repayment plan is they can sue you for the balance, and garnish your wages.
Understand your rights
CBE Group operates just like any other debt collection agency; by use of all means possible to trace an account holder and request them to pay their overdue debt.
Many people have complained about being harassed by this company. It is common knowledge that debt collectors use unorthodox methods to collect on a debt that is due, and as such, the government has put in place some measures that regulate how they treat consumers.
The regulating body that is responsible for the debt collection agencies is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
According to the FDCPA, you have rights. You must never allow a debt collector to intimidate you, such that you are scared for your life, or you feel threatened.
Here are some rules that these debt collectors must adhere to when carrying out their collection duties;
They are not allowed to threaten you at all.
They should not contact you at your place of work.
They must never call you very early in the morning or late at night.
They should be in a position to provide you with adequate documentation that proves the validity of the claim that they are bringing against you.
They cannot arrest or imprison you. This is illegal for them even to suggest it.
They should never send letters that have the appearance of a government office or court letter.
They should never threaten you with a legal action or threaten to harm you or garnish your wages.
They should never pose as law enforcement officers.
They should never give you false credit information.
They should never use a fake company name.
Validate the debt
They will first contact you through a telephone call or send you a letter or email informing you of their intention to collect the debt from you.
Once you receive the letter from them informing you of the debt, do not, under any circumstances, pay off the debt first before verifying its validity.
When you receive a letter from the CBE Group, it may 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.
So, what should you do?
The first thing you should do when you receive a letter from a debt collector is to send them a reply through a debt verification letter.
A debt verification letter is a letter that you send after the collector has sent you a debt validation letter.
If you are uncertain about the debt you are being asked to pay, you can send them a debt verification letter which should request them to provide you with more information. This option is best when you are planning to pay off the debt.
Once CBE Group Inc., receives your verification request, they are required to provide you with the information you need and any accompanying documentation within 30 days. This documentation should contain your signature, to verify that you indeed owe the money; otherwise, you shall not be liable to pay the debt.
The document they should send to you is the debt validation letter.
This is a letter that proves to you that the debt is valid. They should include all documents, paperwork, and evidence that proves this debt is yours. This paperwork will also show you all the details about the account, including who the original lender or creditor was, the dates of account activity, the total balance, and much more.
If they fail to validate your debt, then in compliance with the FDCPA, you’re no longer legally responsible for payment, which means that this debt is legally forgiven. Further, they’re supposed to contact all three credit bureaus to have them remove collections from credit report files, concerning this account.
You should also know that you can request in writing that they stop contacting you and they are required by the law to honor that request. However, on the other hand, saying that they stop calling you cannot stop you from paying your liability, and they can still report you to credit bureaus or sue you for payment of the debt.
Watch out for old debts
All states have a statute of limitations on certain debts, and this is a time limit within which a debt is no longer collectible.
A debt that has exhausted its statute of limitation is known as a zombie debt.
This, however, does not stop debt collectors from trying to get you to pay for the debt, even if its limitation is over. They work at resetting the statute, and you are then on the hook for it all over again. It helps if you know the law of your state and ask for a debt validation before acknowledging the debt.
Ensure that everything is in writing
When debt collectors first contact you, they are required you provide you with some form of confirmation of the debt, and this includes the name of the creditor, how much you owe, and when the debt was taken.
This information should be sent to you in writing when you request for it. Even if they provide the information on the telephone when they first call, ensure to still request written verification of the debt.
You should also request for them to put any promises they make to you in the paper. For example, if the collector agrees to allow you to settle your debt for less verbally, you may have no legal recourse in case he decides to collect in full.
If you also make any requests to them, put this in writing as well, and make copies in case you need them later on. You should also consider recording any telephone conversations you may have with the debt collectors, and ensure that whoever you speak with identifies themselves.
Do not give too much information
Any information you give a debt collector can be used against you to collect on the debt. E.g., do not give out your credit card information or bank information. You should instead consider using a money order or a third-party payment system.
Do not provide bank statements as well, as they can use this to find out exactly how much you have and use it to sue you in court.
Be wary of scams
As I have mentioned above, CBE Group is a legitimate company, but there are many scammers out there, who are up to no good. I’m sure you must have heard horror stories of how people have been conned by sending money to scammers.
To spot scammers, it is recommended that you get the address of the debt collectors, plus their telephone number, and look for them online. A legitimate company should have a verifiable online presence, and if the information is reluctant, you may be dealing with a fake.
In addition, if you live near the company’s main offices, take time to visit them to verify their validity.
Watch out for any collector who will blatantly disregard your rights and keep asking for your bank account or credit card information immediately they contact you. They may be fraudsters looking for an opportunity to drain your bank account.
Negotiate for payment
Did you know that you can negotiate with the debt collectors on how you shall repay the debt? This can help you greatly to repair your damaged credit and also avoid a lawsuit.
You can start by offering to pay a portion of the debt, or request them to lessen the debt with a certain percentage. People have been able to request a lower payment amount by up to 15%, but this depends on their negotiation powers.
Also, you can consider other ways of dealing with your debt such as;
Working with a credit counselor
A credit counselor will help you with debt management. They will also educate you on the various methods you can use to settle your debts and manage your finances in the future.
The counselor will engage the debt collector, and try to negotiate the lowest possible interest rate you can pay for your debt, and in some cases, they will be able to get you a discount on the debt you owe, so that you can pay less.
Filling for bankruptcy
This should be the last possible course of action. Bankruptcy halts all collection attempts, and after this, a debt collector can never call you again for payment of a debt.
Depending on the type that you choose, it can eliminate all of your debts by liquidating some of your assets and distributing the proceeds amongst all of your creditors. You can also get on a flexible repayment plan with affordable payments for the next 3-5 years.
In a perfect and ideal world, we would all be able to stay on top of our monthly payments and avoid debt collectors all together, but if it’s already too late for that, then, understanding your rights, and how to deal with then is of paramount importance.
Once you have successfully managed to deal with a specific debt, you should try and manage your bills from now on. This will help you avoid any future run-ins with debt collectors, and enable you to live a stress-free life.