Since 1997, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has been protecting consumers from mistreatment and abuse by debt collection agencies. Collections agencies retrieve delinquent debt by either being employed by creditors to collect for the creditor or as Midland Credit Management does, buying the debt and right to collect from the original creditor and collecting repaid money for themselves.
The FDCPA has strict guidelines on how collection agencies are allowed to contact consumers and collect debt. In their first contact, they are required by law to identify themselves, their company, and inform you that they are trying to collect a debt from you and who they are collecting it for. After this contact, they must send you a notice in the mail within five days of that contact and verification of the debt if you request it within 30 days of receiving notice. If they don’t send verification, they must cease all contact with you.
The FDCPA also places restrictions on what collectors are not allowed to do, because many agencies take advantage of consumers by harassing them. Collectors are not allowed to:
- call you late at night or early in the morning
- call you at other times you told them you couldn’t take phone calls, such as at work
- harass friends or family members or tell them about your debt
- lie about the debt you owe
- add on fees
- threaten legal action they are not lawfully able to take
Midland Credit Management, Inc. is headquartered San Diego, California. MCM is a licensed collector and works with its affiliate debt-owning company, Midland Funding LLC. However, it’s also affiliated with its parent corporation, Encore Capital Group and the other companies in Encore. MCM is well known, with strong relationships with various financial institutions and retailers.
Laws MCM has been Accused of Breaking
MCM says on their website that they “take pride” in their “clear and honest communications” with their customers, and they are willing to work with customers, but many complaints have been filed against MCM and Encore. MCM is accredited with the Better Business Bureau, but they’ve received over 1,000 complaints through the BBB in the last four years. Encore has over 1,500 consumer complaints listed on the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
MCM and Encore have been taken to court many times, and the companies have been ordered by judges to pay millions back to consumers. Recently, in February of 2015, MCM sentenced by a judge in Colorado to pay $23,000 after investigations from a trial regarding a consumer complaint.
According to Consumer Reports, MCM has allegedly used illegal collection practices, including, but not limited to:
- Harassed third parties about consumer debt
- Used deceptive measures to obtain payment
- Been unwilling to work with struggling consumers
- Threatened unlawful legal action, such as garnishing wages, liquidating assets and court summons
- Called consumers multiple times a day
- Tried collected debt that didn’t exist
- Refused to send debt verifications
What to Do if MCM is Trying to Collect a Debt from You
If you’ve received a call from 1-855-789-8625, this could have been MCM. If you don’t wish to be contacted by MCM, you have the right to stop all communications with them, both by phone and mail. However, if you do owe the money, you will still have to pay it even if they stop calling you. They might also take you to court, since they have no other way to settle the debt. Once they receive the request, they are only allowed to call you to tell you received it and won’t bother you again or to take further action against you.
If you feel you are being treated unfairly or the debt isn’t yours, you should contact a qualified debt collection lawyer immediately. Each FDCPA violation could be worth $1,000 in a settlement, so make sure to record each and every interaction you have with MCM, and your lawyer can help you organize evidence and determine if you have a case.
Your lawyer can also benefit you if you are summoned to court, because you should never ignore summons. If you don’t show up, the judge will automatically default the case you will be responsible for the debt, whether or not it belongs to you.
*The content of this article is not applicable solely to Midland Credit Management, but to any third-party collection agency by which you claim to have been harassed.