(WPRI) -- Starting in 2013, a new watchdog agency will start policing large collection firms. If you're one of the 30 million Americans getting harassed by certain debt collectors, you can finally hang up on them once and for all.
Bill collectors sometimes call Kevin Lynn's house up to 20 times a day, and the debt they're calling about isn't even his.
"I always told them I don't owe the debt, they had the wrong person, that I don't know who the person is," he said.
The person they're looking for apparently lived in his house previously, and Lynn has filed three lawsuits to get the ringing to stop.
Even more frustrating, his phone company charges him for each incoming call.
A new federal agency, known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is looking to crack down on these types of situations by policing some of the largest collections agencies in the country.
How bad can some companies' tactics get?
Attorneys representing consumers say collectors have left people threatening messages such as:
- "I'm going ahead with a warrant for your arrest. You will be behind bars for six months, and once you go behind the bars, you may lose your job."
In an FTC lawsuit filed against one bill collector, a grieving mother said she was asked how she would feel if the funeral home dug up her son's body and "dropped it outside [her] house because [she] hadn't paid [her] debt."
The Debt Collection Trade Association says it wants those using abusive tactics weeded out so that others can do the job right.
"Don't shoot the messenger, we're here doing our job," said Pat Morris of the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. "We're here respecting laws and regulations and we treat consumers with respect."
If you need information about what your rights are when dealing with a debt collector, or how to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's website.
Copyright WPRI 12