Debt collectors regularly abuse consumers in order to unfairly pressure them into paying debts. They use illegal tactics intended to scare and intimidate consumers, sometimes with threats of violence, garnishment, lawsuit, seizure, or arrest. Or they will try to pile on illegal interest or fees to make the debt seem larger than it actually is.
In many cases, these debts are not legitimate! Many debts are time-barred, discharged in bankruptcy, or invalid for other reasons, and debt collectors have no actual right to ask you for your money.
You Don’t Have to Take It
If a debt collector is trying to profit by abusing, harassing, or threatening you, take action. Fight back by contacting Consumer Law Group, PLC. In many cases, we have used the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to stop illegal forms of debt collector harassment and recover cash settlements that are often in excess of the debts allegedly owed.
Call for a free initial telephone consultation about your situation. If you have a meritorious claim, we can work closely with you in an attempt to get you justice.
Here’s a general rule of thumb you can use to interpret this: If your mother would be upset about you treating other people the way that you were treated by the debt collector, then the conduct probably violates the FDCPA.
Here are just a few specific types of conduct that violate the FDCPA:
Making threats of violence or wage garnishment
Threatening to call social services and take away children
Using profanity, including racial slurs
Threatening to call the police and get you arrested
Informing other people that you owe money, including people at work or family members
Overstating the amount that is actually owed
Lying about whether the debt is valid
Lying about or misstating your rights
Repossessing property which is not actually the subject of a lien or security interest
Misstating any information to a credit reporting agency
The best time to put an end to collection abuse is when it’s happening. Don’t wait until the debt collector or his creditor sues you. Take the initiative and put an end to the abuse when it’s occurring. However, if you do get sued, do not delay. Call us as soon as possible.
What Are My Rights?
Federal and state laws give you rights against bill collector harassment. Collection agencies and debt collectors are required to provide you with a notice of your rights within 5 days of the first communication with you. Below are all listed in section 1692c of the FDCPA:
You have the absolute right to demand that a debt collector cease communication. You just have to write a letter setting forth your demand. If you notify the collector that you refuse to pay the debt, that notice also serves as a cease communications notice. In either event, the debt collector may no longer communicate with you except to notify you that he is exercising specific rights.
Debt collectors are prohibited from collecting debts that are not owed. You have the right to demand that the debt collector prove you owe the money. This process is known as “validation” of the debt. Debt collectors must notify you of this right, and if you request validation in writing within 30 days of receiving your notice of rights, the debt collector must either validate the debt to you or cease collection efforts.
What Should I Do?
You should gather and organize all the information you can about the debt, as well as the collection efforts of any past or current collectors who contacted you. The past correspondence provides important information about the kinds of charges and interest that have been added to the debt.
If you have copies of your credit reports, you will need those also. The credit reports also contain historic information about the debt, including the time it was incurred, when it was defaulted, and who may have collected it previously. (See our Errors on Credit Reports page for more about credit reports.)
If you have any notes about the debt or any taped conversations, threatening letters, or any communication whatsoever with the collector, these can be extremely valuable in reconstructing the collection efforts and any abuse. Whenever you are contacted by a collector, you should note the date, time, person you are speaking to and the content of the call including any abusive language or threats. If at all possible, you should keep these notes together in one central spot.
If you have any witnesses who can corroborate that you were abused, you should get a brief statement from that witness in their own words. These statements will help to refresh the witnesses’ memories when you get to trial and provide information to your attorney.
Debt Collectors We Have Taken to Court
If you cannot stop debt collector harassment through the above means, you can always take them to court. Taub regularly take debt collectors to federal court, and often file counter suits against debt collectors who are suing our clients. Here’s a listing of some of the collectors we have taken to court and a link to the complaints and some corporate information:
Many people come to us after spending years battling debt collector harassment to no avail, only to find that we can resolve their situation in days. Contact our attorneys for a free initial telephone consultation about your situation — you’ll be glad you did.