Debt collection agencies
If you have unpaid bills, a debt collection agency may contact you. Creditors hire them to collect delinquent personal debts, such as from credit cards, and mortgage, home equity, auto and other loans. Some debt collectors may repossess your vehicles if you are behind on your payments.
The division registers third-party collection agencies – those hired by a creditor to collect debts on their behalf. Lenders and debt buyers who collect their own debt are original creditors and do not need a state-issued registration. However, all entities that describe themselves as debt collectors must follow the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The act limits what debt collection companies can say or do and requires them to respond appropriately if you have a debt dispute or need more information.
Debt collection complaints
The division accepts and responds to complaints from those creditors that may have issues with their third-party collectors, such as not receiving the money collected. The division also verifies registration and investigates debt collectors who may be unregistered.
The Oregon Department of Justice accepts complaints from Oregon consumers who have issues with the methods the collection agency uses while attempting to collect the debt, such as excessive phone calling or threatening arrest.
Fraud and scams
Thieves frequently pose as collection agencies to steal money or personal identifying information. Many of their schemes target seniors. If you receive a call, email or letter that demands immediate payment – with a credit card or a reloadable card – or threatens legal action, do not make a payment. Instead, ask for verification. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you can request a written “validation notice” that includes the debt amount, the creditor’s name, and description of certain rights under the act. If you do not hear back or the caller refuses to provide a mailing address, chances are the call was fraudulent.
If you are having difficulties paying off debt, you may consider working with an Oregon-registered debt management company.