5 Disturbing New Ways Debt Collectors Are Getting Your Money

#2. Jacking Your Ride

On the one hand, you know it's got to suck to be the guy tracking down cars for repossession. You're always the bad guy, and you face belligerent deadbeats daily. On the other hand, today's repo man has heaps of tools at his disposal to get the job done, including GPS tracking devices hidden in vehicles for precision repossession and remote ignition cut-off technology for late car payments, which seems cool until somebody misses a payment while driving through Deliverance territory.

"Is that banjo music?"

Wait, what?

Turning off your phones to avoid collectors won't help you if they've got repo 2.0 gear on their side. Some are using cameras with automatic license-plate-reading software to scan as many plates as they can, then matching images to a deadbeats database. Once you're found, the jig is up.

Even sneakier are the car dealers who slip GPS devices into the cars they sell, just in case someone goes into default on his payments. The subscription-based-tracking service will not only locate the car for the dealer but will also keep delinquent drivers from driving with a remote "starter interrupt" feature.

And by ... other methods.

Where will you be when your car stops working? Parked at a hotel with your family 300 miles from home? Taking a sick kid to the emergency room? Who knows?! Mommy should have made her payment, kid!

#1. Pretending to be The Law (While Terrifyingly Breaking It)

In 2008 and 2009, thousands of people across the U.S. were called by law enforcement officials and ordered to make payments on their debt or face jail time. In one case, a couple in Texas came home to a message from the police department warning them that officers were en route to their home at that very moment regarding an unpaid debt.

"That's right, sir. We're basically mercenaries now."

The couple was expecting twins, so they fled their home in terror. But these calls weren't coming from law enforcement officials. They were coming from several debt-collection agencies posing as the police. And this is the man who was the CEO of those debt-collection agencies:

Pictured: CEO "Bags of Money." His self-chosen nickname, as well as what he extorted.

Wait, what?

His real name is Tobias Boyland, and besides being the author of a book titled Thug Motivation and a convicted AK-47-touting felon currently on the run, he was also a small-business owner. Specifically, a debt-collection business. It turns out it's not all that hard for anyone, Bags of Money included, to buy himself a giant portfolio of old debt and account information and do with it what he pleases.

Trickery and the threat of violence are a pretty powerful combination, but at least Bags of Money had the integrity to be thoroughly evil from the get-go. When Kim Mitchell got in over her head debt-wise, she contacted her lawyer for help. What she didn't know was that her debt collector did a spot-on lawyer impersonation, which he used to convince her to borrow from her 401(k), skip the mortgage on her house for two months and ditch her electricity bill to put together the debt money. All sound advice, when your counsel is coming from the devil.

"Have you considered prostitution? It's a great way to make quick cash!"

Well, at the very least, we all have our day in court, right? This is America, after all. No debt collector could take that away from us. This is probably exactly what a number of people in Erie, Pa., thought after they were summoned to court. The only problem? Debt collectors had actually invented the entire courtroom. Unicredit America dressed employees up as sheriffs, hired an attorney to draft fake hearing notices and decorated a room near its offices to look like a real courtroom, replete with fake spectator seating, a fake witness stand, tables and chairs for attorneys and defendants, bookshelves full of legal texts, a bench for the judge and, of course, one of the agency's employees dressed up to play that judge.

The good news in this case, though, is that justice did miraculously prevail in the end, when the entire debt-collection terror troupe was shut down, booked on criminal charges and brought before a real federal judge themselves. The bad news is that, for the rest of us, facing off against debt-collectors in a real court may actually be almost as bad, since the debt collection industry basically owns small circuit courts in sleepy little podunk towns such as Boston and Chicago.

Plus, there's the fact that in 2009, the FTC went ahead and declared the entire American debt-collection litigation system to be broken, to which dozens of Bags of Money's victims declared, "YOU THINK?"

The Federal Trade Commission: Stating the obvious, long after it could have done any good.

Jason Edward Harrington is a former debt collector and current freelance writer. He has blogged at www.absenteedaddy.com and www.jasonedwardharrington.wordpress.com.

Instead of paying off your debt, you should totally purchase our book instead.

For more courtroom craziness, check out 9 Insane Cases that Prove the U.S. Legal System Is Screwed and 7 Ridiculous Cases Where Animals Were Put On Trial.

And stop by Linkstorm to see what happens when people come asking us for money.

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