Debt Collectors Carve Niche Going After Military Service Members

Some debt collectors seem to be carving a niche out of going after military service members, veterans, and their families, as Karen Jowers reports for the Military Times. Jowers quotes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB: “The sheer volume of debt collection complaints alone makes this an important complaint category,” meaning it’s on the CFPB’s radar, at least.

Whether or not enough will be done to stop this kind of debt collection is a whole other matter. To be fair, a debt collector is generally within his or her rights to try to collect on an unpaid debt. But the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, exists for a reason: Debt collectors often resort to abusive or deceptive behavior.

Related: See our checklist for fair debt collection violations.

Here’s what many debt collectors working in the military niche are doing:

· Contacting a service member’s chain of command

· Threatening to get the service member punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice

· Threatening to get the service member’s rank reduced

· Threatening to have a service member’s security clearance revoked

You’ll only find these kinds of threats coming from debt collectors in the military context. These threats are evidence that debt collectors have thought long and hard on what might worry a service member, even if that service member doesn’t owe anything.

Apparently, as Jowers reports, a full 39 percent of attempts at debt collection involve “phantom debts,” or debts that aren’t even owed at all.

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Debt Collectors Carve Niche Going After Military Service Members