Bills are piling up. You are feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Suddenly your unpaid bills have been sent for collection. What do you do now?
There Are Debt Collection Scammers Out There
With so much outstanding debt around, scammers can use fear tactics to coerce worried debtors into paying up thousands of dollars although the money doesn’t get credited to your overdue account. Consequently, you need to verify that the calls or letters you are receiving about outstanding debts are coming from a legitimate debt collection service. Here’s how to verify this type of claim.
- Ordinarily, you will receive a phone call or letter in the mail from a debt collector notifying you of the debt claim. These first contacts usually occur when a debt is at least 180 days past due.
- Within five days of contacting you either by phone or letter, the debt collector must send you a debt validation letter. This letter must include: how much money you own, the name of the original creditor, and how to dispute the debt in the event you contest the amount or even the debt itself.
- If you contest the debt, you can ask the debt collector for a verification letter, which must be sent within 30 days of the date of the validation notice.
- If the debt is legitimate, you must respond to the notification and negotiate a plan to pay off the remaining debt.
- If you don’t respond to the debt validation letter and if you don’t pay off the debt, then you can be sued. Defending yourself in a debt collector’s lawsuit is harder than negotiating a settlement.
- A failure to appear in court on the assigned day usually results in the court entering a default judgment against you. That default judgment can be used to garnish your wages or place a lien on any property you might own.
Hire a Trusted Attorney to Represent You
Once you have verified that the debt is real and that the debt collector is legitimate, you might consider hiring a debt collection attorney to represent you in this matter.
Finding the right debt relief lawyer to entrust your future financial stability requires finding the right fit between experience, reputation, cost, and accessibility. At The Sands Law Group APLC, we pride ourselves in giving our clients the advantages of a large law firm—in-house expertise in a variety of specialties—in a small firm environment that highlights personal and compassionate attention to each client. Our attorneys are as diverse as the Los Angeles area, and we offer affordable legal services. You can call today to arrange for a free 15-minute phone consultation.
How to Challenge a Debt Collection Suit
After you have verified the legitimacy of a debt collection and hire a debt collection attorney, it’s essential that you respond to the debt validation letter to avoid being sued. Once a case is filed with the clerk of the court, it’s harder to negotiate a settlement. Unfortunately, over 70% of debt collection cases end up in default judgments, which reduce your capacity to contest any inaccuracies in the debt documentation or negotiate a more reasonable repayment plan. Therefore, it’s important to protect yourself and your future credit rating by responding to any lawsuit that gets filed.
Debt collectors make mistakes. Because debt is often sold and resold, the debt collector might not be the original credit source that you contracted with. Many things can go wrong when debt is bunched and resold to other corporate entities. Look at the documents carefully to make sure that you are properly named and that the details of the original loan are accurate.
But I paid off this money! Since debt is often sold, you might have paid off the debt, and the payment was not recorded before the debt was sold. Make sure that the amount of money alleged to be owned is indeed the right amount of money.
This happened years ago. The claim for debt repayment might be defensible because the statute of limitations places time constraints on how long a creditor might take to secure repayment of a loan. Statues of limitations can run from 3-20 years, depending on the state and the subject matter at issue.
You want to gather any evidence you have to substantiate your defense against a debt collector. This means bringing in proof that the wrong person was served, the debt was already repaid, or that the statute of limitations bars the claim from court.
You Have Rights as a Debtor
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Truth in Lending Act all require that debt collectors act fairly and avoid harassment during the debt collection process. Here are just a few impermissible tactics:
- Contact you before 8:00 in the morning or after 9:00 at night.
- Engage in harassment, which includes using profanity or threatening harm to you, your family, or property.
- Contact your employer except to verify employment, your location, or to set up a wage garnishment, unless the case has already been filed and a judgment entered.
- Contact you directly once you have notified the debt collector that you are represented by an attorney.
- Misrepresenting themselves or how much money you actually owe.
Contact the Sands Law Group today for a free 15-minute phone consultation
Or for more complex matters, The Sands Law Group APLC offers a robust portfolio of services, a budget-conscious fee structure, locations in Los Angeles and Honolulu, and a diverse multilingual team of attorneys and support staff. We get results for our clients—individuals, families, and businesses in California and Hawaii. We are here to help you navigate your legal issue with compassion, experience, and unparalleled skill. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.