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Man with phone

But how do you know you owe the money?

Aug. 14, 2016

Approximately one out of three Americans have some kind of debt that is in collections. 1 out of 3 is big number, but its even bigger when you think that many of those debts aren’t actually owed by the person they are after.

How many false attempts are there? That number isn’t exactly clear. One Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study's rough estimate was that roughly 1,000,000 debts every year consumers claim were either not owed or owed in different amounts. A study of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported that 42% of the all the consumer collection complainants were reported that they were repeatedly dunned for debts they didn't owe.

Why does this happen? It can be for a variety of reasons. Many of the debts being collected are by companies that didn’t make the loans in the first place — they buy the debts from the original lenders or other debt buyers or had they were hired to collect the money. Either way, they rely on others for information they are given about the debt. Unfortunately, just as in the game of telephone, something big gets lost in translation.

Phantom Debts Plague Collections System