Need-to-Know Items re Rent-to-Own Collectors
Lately I have received several calls from consumers who have been harassed by debt collectors for debts related to rent-to-own agreements for furniture and household furnishings. More specifically, collectors have been calling threatening criminal prosecution, legal process, civil lawsuits, jail, wage garnishment, and other things while alleging—incorrectly, in many cases—that the consumer failed to return furnishings or otherwise breached the rent-to-own agreement. While the rent-t0-own industry may serve a legitimate purpose there appears to be a troubling trend of exorbitant, unjustified fees and debt collection abuse within the industry.
If you are contacted by a person or entity collecting on a debt related to a rent-to-own agreement do not make any promise, commitments, or payments without having a full understanding of the facts and law relating to your situation. A debt collector cannot do the following:
- Threaten to take action that it does not intend to pursue
- Contact your friends, family, employer, or others other than to determine where you live and work
- Make any false statement regarding an alleged debt
- Use profane language or repeated telephone calls
- Contact you at work if they have a valid, non-work related phone number for you
- Threaten to hurt or harm you or your family
Whenever you speak with a debt collector make notes of the following information:
- Date and time of the conversation
- Approximate length of the conversation
- Name and phone number of debt collection agency or company
- Name of person(s) with whom you spoke
- General nature of conversation (did the person make any threats of legal action, garnishment, judgments, physical violence or intimidation? What was the amount of the account and any late charges? did the person offer any settlement terms for the debt?)
Be sure to save all voicemails, recorded messages, text messages, letters and envelopes, faxes and cover sheets, e-mails, and any other written communication you receive from debt collectors. If you believe you are the victim of abuse or harassment by a rent-to-own company you should consult an experienced consumer lawyer immediately.