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Kohl's customer alleges harassment over $20 card bill

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Ohio consumers may know that certain laws limit the actions of creditors when they are trying to collecting payments. One Michigan woman recently filed a lawsuit against a department store chain after allegedly receiving collection calls that violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The woman's original credit card bill was only $20, but fees increased the debt to $100.

Although the original debt appears to be valid, the woman reportedly refused to pay the bill because she received excessive calls during early-morning and late-night hours. Reports did not specify the times when calls were received, but under federal law, agencies are also prohibited from contacting debtors before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. without prior consent. In addition, creditors must secure the consent of the recipient before calling private cellphones with prerecorded messages or using automatic dialing software.

If the calls came from a debt collection agency, rather than internal Kohl's customer service representatives, the penalties for violating consumer protection laws could be more severe. In the meantime, choosing not to pay the overdue bill could damage the woman's credit score and lead to even higher fees. However, providing evidence that the department store infringed on her rights may result in compensation for incurred legal fees, including the initial charge.

Consumers who feel unjustly harassed by creditors may benefit from keeping a detailed log of all communications, making note of the time, date and subject of each conversation. Filing complaints against aggressive companies may give consumers opportunities to work out favorable settlements and prevent creditors from making incessant or threatening phone calls. At the same time, consumers should not ignore a mounting debt while pursuing litigation. In this case, the unpaid debt was minimal, but individuals facing serious financial challenges may need to consult an attorney about debt relief options.

Source: Lowcards.com, "Woman Sues Kohl’s Over Harassment for $20 Credit Card Bill", Lynn Oldshue, June 26, 2014

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