State law sets limits on debt collectors
Regarding your item about collection agencies being regulated under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Kokua Line, Oct. 10), what about individual companies trying to collect debts on their accounts? Do the same rules apply?
Answer: According to the Federal Trade Commission, "a debt collector is any person who regularly collects debts owed to others," including attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.
This would not necessarily include businesses trying to collect payment for its own goods or services.
However, the state does have a law regulating those not considered third-party collection agencies, said Stephen Levins, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.
Under Chapter 480D of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, a debt collector is "any person, who is not a collection agency, and who in the regular course of business collects or attempts to collect consumer debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due to the collector."
Among other things, this law prohibits any debt collector from threatening to harm a person, or the person's reputation or property; from falsely accusing or threatening to make false accusations about any person of fraud or other criminal conduct; from falsely accusing or threatening to make false accusations about an unpaid debt to someone else, including any credit reporting agency; from threatening that nonpayment will result in an arrest; from threatening to turn over the debt collection to someone who engages in prohibited practices; from using profane or obscene language; from communicating any false information relating to the indebtedness; or from collecting or attempting to collect any interest, fee, or expense unless authorized by agreement or by law.
Levins said any violation would fall under the state's general unfair and deceptive trade practices law.
The Office of Consumer Protection enforces Chapter 480D.
Q: Is there an agency that oversees the hotel industry in Hawaii? I can't find any agency that would handle hotel complaints.
A: You can file a complaint with the state Office of Consumer Protection. Call 587-3222.
While there's no agency that specifically handles complaints against hotels, complaints would fall generally under consumer affairs.
Recycle Phone Books
Hawaiian Telcom Yellow Pages and All Rolloff Services will be setting up three locations on Oahu where residents and businesses can recycle phone books.
The phone books can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays, Oct. 23 to Nov. 17 at Benjamin Parker Elementary School, 45-259 Waikalua Road, Kaneohe; Ilima Intermediate School, 91-884 Fort Weaver Road, Ewa Beach; and Hawaiian Telcom's Moanalua Baseyard, 1021 Kikowaena Place, Mapunapuna.
For more information or maps of the locations, see www.HTYellowPages.com.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
. See also: Useful phone numbers