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During the Great Recession of 2008, many consumers found themselves getting further and further behind on the bills due to loss of employment and stagnant wages. Many consumers now are in the throes of debt collection - an unpleasant process that can cause unnecessary anxiety.
In Georgia, 67.4 percent of consumers currently are behind on their mortgages, according to data released by the Urban Institute. The average debt in Georgia is $46,668, with 42 percent of that debt currently in collections.
Consumers who are in the unfortunate position of having their debt turned over to a collection agency still have protections in place. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are required to treat consumers fairly and are prohibited from engaging in certain practices in an attempt to recover money owed to creditors.
Additionally, in Georgia, consumers also are protected by the Georgia Industrial Loan Act, which applies to loans or advances of money of $3,000 or less. The law requires consumer loan agencies to possess a license; they are limited to the amount of fees, interest and late charges that can be applied to consumer loans; and they have to follow proper protocol when extending the debt.
Debt collectors or loan agencies that violate the provisions can be reported to the Georgia Industrial Loan Commissioner. Additionally, consumers can opt to file a civil lawsuit against the agency.
Consumers who wish to work toward paying off their debt can employ the services of a consumer credit counseling service. These services are able to negotiate lower payments, and even help consumers apply for debt consolidation if they qualify.
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