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FTC punishes debt collector

In recent tough financial times, the debt collection industry has boomed, but unlawful practices have the FTC investigating numerous complaints.

The Pulse is up today on news that debt collectors have been getting some unnerving calls lately, too. Theirs are coming from the Federal Trade Commission, who received more than 165,000 complaints last year from Americans who felt they’d been illegal pursued for debts they owe. That’s a new record.

As part of a new push to enforce fair debt-collection practices, yesterday the FTC announced a $2.5 million settlement with Asset Acceptance Capital Corporation for illegally coercing people to pay debts they no longer owe, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In time, all debts legally expire. The lifespan of a debt varies from state to state, but paying any portion of “past-statute” debt can reset the clock, giving collectors free reign to keep harassing those they’re trying to collect from. It’s called “re-aging,” and while it’s legal, the FTC is pursuing collectors who break the law by not disclosing the statutes during the collection process.

With the practice widespread, the FTC says stay tuned for more enforcement actions.

About the author

Joel Patterson is the Associate Producer of Marketplace Money.
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