The Ripping Off of the “Greatest Generation”June 1, 2016
How to Protect the Elderly From Scams and Overly Aggressive Bill Collectors
It is unfortunate that some take advantage of our “Greatest Generation”. One common way of reaching senior citizens is by overly aggressive telemarketing of nonexistent investment opportunities and bogus charities; as well as by abrupt bill collectors consistently dunning the elderly population for debts (some real, some not), at all hours of the day and night. The U.S. Mail is frequently used by nefarious scammers and bill collectors using illegal bill collection practices to further their respective “business enterprises.” Many seniors take the path of least resistance and pay these bills, which may or may not be valid. However, voluminous amounts of fraudulent bills of $13.00 to $113.00 dollars, collected from 5000 to 10,000 seniors can add up quickly to a very lucrative business.
Fortunately, there are legal protections in place in Pennsylvania and the entire U.S.A. that can protect our “Greatest Generation” and all consumers from these scams and avoid being duped out of their hard earned retirements or savings. I am speaking of the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, (15 USC Section 1692) (“Act”). This Act permits one to challenge the debt by written objection within 30 days of notice of said debt and requires that the debt be validated before any future collection can be attempted. The Act is applicable to collection of personal family or household debt and does not apply to corporate or business debts. In addition, the Act generally applies to third party collection agencies, those debt collectors that do so as a business; and not to a party collecting its own debts.
Debt collectors are limited to when and how they may communicate with consumers and the Act requires that when a party has obtained an attorney, the debt collector must communicate with the attorney, if the attorney’s name and address are easily accessible.
The Act broadly prohibits our seniors and all consumers from harassing or abusive collection practices, which include, but are not limited to the use of obscene or profane language or annoying and repeated calling of telephone numbers in order to collect a debt. The Act provides for actual and punitive damages and for costs and reasonable attorney’s fee for failure to comply with the Act.
While there are exceptions to the application of the Act, it provides affirmative relief to our seniors from having their home invaded by unwelcome and sometimes fraudulent callers and protects them from abuse and harassment when using their main sources of communication and contact; the telephone and the mail.
Need Help? Contact DZMM
If you or a loved one has been ripped off and needs help, give the attorneys at DZMM a call at 717-724-9821. We’re here to help.