Friday, November 18, 2011

FTC reports rapid increase in complaints against debt collectors

According to a USA Today story Friday Nov. 18, 2011 (front page) by Oren Dorell, complaints about abusive debt collection practices are accumulating more rapidly than in any other industry, including debt consolidation and other financial services.

The increase in complaints has risen from about 100000 in 2008 to over 140000 in 2010.

Companies vary in how strictly they enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) with their collectors, who typically make less than $13 an hour but get bonuses for performance.  And I know from my own experience in Minnesota in 2003, where an interviewer, for a job that I did not get, asked me about assertiveness, that companies do push employees into manipulating others.  (I did get a job with a different company and did fairly well before moving back to the East Coast later in 2003.)

Is this increase in complaints mainly about individual debt collectors, about specific debt collection companies, or against the industry itself?  Many of the abuses occur with debts that the companies have purchased outright for cents on the dollar.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Some credit cards emit wireless signals that leave them vulnerable to hackers

Walt Augustinowitz, who founded Identity Stronghold (link), helped television station WJLA (ABC, Washington DC) report on “electronic pickpocketing”.  Some credit cards have a “wireless hologram” that send out a signal that cell phones or other devices can pick up, and credit card transactions processed on smart phones can sometimes be hacked.  

It’s prudent to ask credit card companies to send cards without the wireless gonzo.

So far, very few such hacks have actually been reported to police.

A similar report has also been aired recently on Fox channels. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Unpaid fines (parking, photo-enforced light or speeding) can get turned over to collections, affect credit scores heavily

Recently, the media have been reporting that more states and municipalities are turning over unpaid parking and photo-enforced speeding or red-light tickets to collection agencies.  A single collection agency submission of an out-of-town ticket can lower a FICO score of maybe 780 or so by as much as a hundred points.
In many jurisdictions, people can lose points on driver’s licenses for unpaid tickets in adjoining states, but not far-away states or on car rentals (whose contracts always insist that tickets be paid; I had to pay a Delaware toll problem in 2002 when I didn’t know what lane to be in on 95).

But people will lose credit score points for unpaid violations anywhere if turned over to collections.

Here’s a question from Yahoo! on paying an old ticket, link

Here’s a story on collections activity from Atlanta, link.