Falling behind in payments to credit card companies can cause big headaches. It is not Visa or MasterCard harassing you. It is the companies that issue the cards. Banks such as JPMorgan, Chase, and Capital One are in the collection business.
There are rules against repeated or late night debt collection telephone calls. Enforcement of the rules falls on three federal agencies:
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
- The Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Protection is a new agency created under the Dodd-Frank law. The Comptroller regulates banks. The Trade Commission tries to protect consumers.
Banks and credit card companies are treating consumers as they did people who fell behind on mortgages a few years ago. They are filing lawsuits. Often the lawsuits lack the proper paperwork. Some people are taken to court even though they claim that they were never served. Judgments are entered that hurt credit records.
Some results are taking place. The F.T.C. charged Expert Global Solutions with using unfair and deceptive practices and illegal debt-collection techniques. The company was fined $3.2 million.
All the companies and banks under investigation are cooperating with the federal agencies. They say they are changing their practices, including the practice of telling third parties about the consumer’s debt.
It is sometimes hard to believe, but consumers may have a friend in the federal government.