FTC Disclosure:

I am not paid or compensated in any way to write product reviews posted to this blog. There are affiliate links posted throughout this blog. So, when you click through on links and buy something, I may receive a commission. I pay for the products with my own funds. Product reviews always reflect my own experience with and honest opinion of the product as a consumer.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Deal With Harassing Creditors and Debt Collectors

If you are getting harassing calls from creditors, know that you have rights under the law. When you have that knowledge, you empower yourself. Now, I am not saying that creditors don’t have a right to collect on an unpaid debt. Creditors absolutely are within their rights to use legal means to get the money that is owed. I think that the majority of debt collectors are professional and reasonable in their approach. However, should you ever encounter an unscrupulous and nasty debt collector, there is a federal law that protects you. It is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). I have summarized the points that I think are most important below. The FDCPA refers to people who are obligated to pay debts as “consumers”, so this is the term that I will use is my summary.

Debt collectors are not allowed to do the following things:
  • Discuss details about a consumer’s debt to a third party, such as relatives, employers, neighbors, etc.
  • Send postcards
  • Communicate more than once with third parties about contacting the consumer
  • Use language on the outside of mailed correspondence which identifies that the mailing is in regards to a debt collection or that the mailing is from a debt collector
  • Communicate with the consumer or third parties after notification that the consumer is represented by an attorney; All communications must occur through the attorney
  • Contact the consumer regarding the debt before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m., in the consumer’s time zone
  • Contact the consumer at his or her place of employment, after being told not to
  • Contact the consumer about the debt after receiving written notification by the consumer to cease contact; Afterwards, the debt collector can contact the consumer only to give notice of further legal action, like lawsuit.
  • Engage in behavior that is meant to harass, oppress, or abuse the consumer
  • Use threat of physical violence, harm to reputation, or property damage
  • Use profane, obscene, or abusive language in communications with the consumer (for example, threatening to shoot your dog)
  • Publish a list of the names of consumers that have not paid their debts, except to a consumer credit reporting agency, such as Equifax.
  • Cause a consumer’s phone to continually ring in order to annoy or harass
  • Misrepresent that the debt collector is a law firm, affiliated with law enforcement, and/or the government
  • Misrepresent the nature, status, and amount of debts (For example, claim that a consumer owes a debt when in reality, the consumer does not owe a debt)
  • Tell a consumer that he or she will be arrested for not paying the debt (debtor’s prison does not exist in the United States)
  • Threaten to seize property or garnish wages unless it is intended through a legal process
  • Distribute a misleading or phony legal document regarding the debt or misrepresent that a document is authorized by the government or court system ( example, a phony summons, search warrant)
  • Collect amounts besides the amount of the original debt and lawful interest and fees
  • Coerce consumers to submit postdated checks

If you feel that you are being harassed by a debt collector, get the name of that collector. Also, save any harassing messages or correspondence received. Next, contact an attorney that deals with harassment by debt collectors. Then, you can determine whether you should file a lawsuit against the debt collector and a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If the debt collector is found to be in violation of the FDCPA, you may be able to get damages, attorneys fees, and costs in a lawsuit, plus the FTC could impose a fine on the debt collector. Please be aware that this law does not apply to in house collectors working for original creditors. You might want to check your state statutes to learn what your rights are when it comes to in house collection from the orginal creditor.  There are some other areas of this law that I didn’t summarize here.  You can read more about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act at ftc.gov.

Copyright 2011- www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

Video From ABC about Illegal Debt Collection Practices

I used to work for a credit card company, which specializes in offering credit to people with bad credit. I did not like the job, because it required collection calls to the nonpaying  customers.  Most of the customers that I contacted either forgot to pay or were not able to pay, for whatever reasons.  We were told to contact customers whom were delinquent on payments at any phone number that the customer listed in the company's records.  These numbers included home phone numbers and work phone numbers. 

We would call each customer everyday, within certain time limits, according to law.  Once we actually spoke to a customer we did not contact the customer again for that day.  And if the customer told us not to call their job, during the course of a discussion, we were not supposed to call the customer's job again.  The entire purpose of the collection calls was to remind the customer that he or she is late making their payment.  Then from there, the collector's were supposed to explain what the customers' repayment options are and to persuade the customer to make a payment on the spot.

Under no circumstances were collectors working at this company permitted to be abusive towards the customers.  In fact, many of the calls are monitored and if it were ever discovered that a customer service rep or bill collector were disrespectful to a customer, then that bill collector would be subject to termination.

On the flip side, I would occasionally receive a hostile response from some of the customers that I tried to collect from. There were times that I was screamed at, insulted, and cursed at by hostile customers. These types of situations were the exception, as most customers knew that it was their responsibility to pay their bills on time.  Most did not take out any frustration on me, because they understood that I was doing my job.

So, from this experience, I know that not all debt collectors are abusive to consumers. However, the establishment that I worked for is not a collection agency. It is a bank and an original creditor. Many times, there is a big difference in the treatment that consumers receive from their original creditors and from third party collection agencies.  Third party collection agencies are either hired by original creditors to collect debt.  Some third party collection agencies buy the debt from the original creditors for pennies on the dollar and try to collect the balance of the debt (or a portion) for a profit.

Debt collectors are sometimes brutal and they play on consumer's ignorance of their legal rights and shame that they aren't able to repay their debts.  It is amazing the lengths that bill collectors will go to.  It is like some of the debt collectors are trying to get blood from a stone.

If you can't pay your debts at this time, then don't worry yourself too much about it. Your life and health is worth much more than what you may owe or material possessions. When you are in a position to repay, then you will pay, but in the meantime, let that extra stress go. I speak from the experience of having debt.

Copyright 2011- www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Tea

I feel that Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea is one of the best packaged teas available. It is good quality and affordable, at about $3.00 per box. The tea contains chamomile, tilia estrella, and valerian, which are all included to produce that calming and relaxing effect.  As soon as the box of tea bags are opened, the rich wholesome smells of the herbs hit you in the face. There is no doubt that the herbs are authentic. There are no artificial flavorings or preservatives.  This product is caffeine free and gluten free.

The box of tea is carefully wrapped to help preserve the freshness. There are 20 bags in each box.  The bags are stacked within the box and  joined together in groups of two. The bags are not individually wrapped. You can’t help but admire the graphic of the cute Teddy bear on the box cover, dressed in night clothes.

I steep 2 bags at a time to get a stronger brew and to fall asleep quicker. The tea taste very nice, when sweetened with honey instead of cane sugar. Don’t expect to fall asleep right away, as this product works gradually. I usually begin to feel mellow about 30 minutes after drinking the tea. Upon waking up, this product doesn’t leave you with that groggy, hangover feeling that results from taking sleeping pills. 

I enjoy a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Wellness Tea after a hard, stressful day, or when it is close to my bedtime.  Celestial Seasonings offers a regular version of Sleepytime tea as well, but it does not contain valerian.  Sleepytime tea is also available in vanilla and decaf lemon jasmine green tea flavors.

Another thing that I like about these teabags is that they are environmentally friendly. Celestial Seasonings does not use strings, tags, or staples in the teabags. This results in less waste in our landfills. The box packaging is composed of 100% recycled paperboard. It is very good to know that this product is made by an ethical and environmentally conscious company.

Copyright 2011- www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com

Review of Suave Advanced Therapy Body Lotion

I do not generally buy this brand of lotion, but I thought that I would give it a try, since it was on sale for less than $3.00 at Winn Dixie. It is Suave Advanced Therapy body lotion, in the 18 FL oz. bottle with a dispenser on the top. Well, I think that the lotion is mediocre at best. It does a reasonable job of moisturizing the skin, and that’s it. I am a little surprised, since it is manufactured by Unilever, which makes great skin care products like, Dove.

When I used this lotion, it doesn’t feel like the ingredients are penetrating the skin for deep moisturizing. It is very lightweight, and easy to rub in. It dries up pretty quickly as long as you don’t use too much of it. At the same time, some may not like the watery consistency of Suave lotion. Sometimes it feels like it is just sitting on top of the skin and giving it light moisture.

The lotion has an okay scent. I think that fragrance in skin care products are very important. Although it doesn’t smell bad, I am not very impressed by the scent of this lotion. I also wish there were a better description on the label about how the product smells. The one that I bought sort of smells like lavender. One plus with the scent is that it doesn’t hit you in the face like other fragrance. Suave Advanced Therapy body lotion has a barely detectable scent.

I feel that I probably got what I paid for with this product. If I could describe it in one word I would say "cheap". I don’t think that I would recommend Suave Advanced Therapy body lotion to anyone that has dry or chapped skin. The lotion is okay as a supplement and back up to other skin moisturizers. I do not believe the claim by the company that the lotion is "Advanced Therapy". I don't see much of a difference between this product and a no-name brand lotion sold by a dollar store. Quite frankly, it is almost laughable to use such a label for this product. 

Copyright 2011- www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com

Review of Nature’s Secret Ultimate Cleanse

Nature's Secret Ultimate Cleanse 2-part system and  Nature's Way
Milk Thistle capsules that I ordered from Amazon.com
Nature's Secret Ultimate Cleanse is a good value overall for the money spent. It is made by Nature’s Secret and their products are available at most large chain health food and nutritional supplement retailers, like Whole Foods and The Vitamin Shoppe. It’s on sale right now for between $12 - $13 online at the Vitamin Shoppe website and at amazon.com.

The product is designed to be a total body detox and cleansing system. The supplements come in tablet form and contains about 30 different herbs to detox and energize the body. There are two sets of pills that must be taken daily for up to 30 days. I have been using this product on and off now for about six years, with good results.

After the first day of taking the pills I usually start to see some results. I have two very soft bowel movements per day during the first few days of taking this product. There is a lot of waste coming out (probably months worth of toxins and build up). The thing that I enjoy most about using this product is that it helps with constipation. The stool comes out soft and formed, rather than liquid as occurs with some laxatives. It’s not recommended for long term use beyond 30 days consecutively.

The tablets came with a free CD, entitled "An Amazing Journey to Health with Irwin Naturals" and a free sample of Irwin Naturals Women's Living Green Liquid Gel Multi Capsules.  The CD provides some general health information, but it is mainly an introduction to the different types of product that the company offers.

 Free CD that I received with Ultimate Cleanse

Two Part System with Ultimate Cleanse

Free sample that came in the package

I think that one of the downsides to Nature’s Secret Ultimate Cleanse is that it contains Cascara Sagrada, which may cause discoloration of the intestinal lining. Therefore, it can interfere with procedures like colonoscopy, because the doctor may not be able to see the intestinal lining tissues very well. The other negative is that since it is in tablet form, the herbs and nutrients are not as easily absorbed. Also, the tablets are large, so if you are taking several in one sitting, you might want to do it very slowly.  Take the tablets very slowly to prevent choking, and to wash away the funny, bitter taste of the tablets.  I am not sure whether the product passes muster as a total body cleanser, but I am satisfied that it is an effective colon cleanser.

Copyright 2011- www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com


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