Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How do you stop a debt collector from harassing you?

If you have fallen behind on your payments due to an illness or a job layoff, debt collectors will be calling you. They have the right to collect on the money you owe, but some debt collectors cross the line.

There are some collectors that threaten to have you arrested, make improper bank withdrawals, intimidate people and make harassing phone calls. According to the National Consumer Law Center, a collector has even threatened to call a woman's work place until she lost her job. The Better Business Bureau reported that one debt collector called a consumer's grandmother four times a day using threats such as "if she dies, then her life insurance can pay this debt off."

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly. If the debt is legitimate, then you have to pay it, but you still have rights.
  • A debt collector cannot call you before 8 am or after 9 pm.
  • You cannot be contacted at work if the collector knows your employer disapproves.
  • Write a letter telling the debt collector to stop calling you.
  • If you have an attorney, tell the debt collector to contact the attorney. If you don't have one, the debt collector can ask your friends and family about how to get in touch with you.
  • A debt collector cannot use profane or threatening language.
  • A debt collector cannot misrepresent the amount of your debt, such as in the case of a consumer, who filed for bankruptcy in 1993. She was contacted in December of 1997, saying she had an unpaid credit card balance of $5,655 from 1992. With interest the letter claimed the debt had grown to $19,400.
  • Debt collectors cannot say that they will put a lien on your property, unless the really mean to do so.
  • Debt collectors cannot legally claim federal benefits, such as Social Security or your retirement accounts, like your IRA or 401(k) unless the debt is owed to the federal government. In 1996, Congress passed the Debt Collection Improvement Act which allows the government to take a portion of federal retirement, federal salary and Social Security benefit checks to cover non-tax debts owed to the government, such as federal student loans.
  • A debt collector may not use false statements, such as: falsely implying that they are attorneys, that you have committed a crime, or that they operate or work for a credit bureau or misrepresenting the amount of your debt, the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt, or indicating that papers sent to you are legal forms when they are not.
Once you have been contacted by telephone, the debt collector must outline your debt, stating the amount, whom you owe the money to, and what action to take if you don't owe the money. If you don't owe the debt, you must write a letter stating you don't owe the money within 30 days.

If you decide to pay the debt, even if you don't owe it, just to get rid of the debt collector, it is an admission of guilt and it will have a negative impact on your credit score.

There is a statue of limitations on debt. Generally 3 to 15 years. Check with your state attorney general's office to find out the limit in your state (Florida State Attorney General's website: http://myfloridalegal.com). Do not accept new credit offers from a creditor you never repaid. Once your credit relationship is renewed, the statute of limitations starts over again.

If you have been treated unfairly, contact your state attorney general's office. You should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission 877-FTC-HELP or go to www.ftc.gov.

You have the right to sue a debt collector in state or federal court within a year of the date the law is violated. You may recover money for the damages you suffered plus an additional amount up to $1,000. A group may also sue a collector and for damages up to $500,000 or one percent of the collector's net worth, whichever is less.

Monday, June 29, 2009

MY9NEWS Reporter exposes NJ debt collector

Old debts, known as zombie debt, can resurface without warning. Credit card companies sell the debt to debt collectors, who then contact you and increase the amount owed. You have 30 days from the day you receive the letter from the debt collector or bill collector to respond. Send a certified letter to the debt collector. See our blog dated January 22, 2009 for complete information to include in the letter. www.againstbillcollectors.blogspot.com

For more information on zombie debt, read http://www.againstbillcollectors.com/pastarticles.html

Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTVZ4rU2_84

Friday, June 26, 2009

MSNBC Video - Deceptive Practices Used by Debt Collectors

MSNBC investigates deceptive practices used by debt collectors. The video shows debt collectors that pretend to be police officers in order to trick people into thinking they are going to be arrested. This is illegal. There are Florida and Federal laws to protect you. For more information go to www.againstbillcollectors.com.

Watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwrFy2bMn5Q

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Saxon Gilmore represented two consumers against Suncoast Vacations. As a result of our efforts, the company decided not to pursue the charge for a vacation rental package, which was contested by our clients.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A federal judge in the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, recently entered a judgment for statutory damages against Equilease Residential Services, LLC and in favor of our clients pursuant to the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act. The Court approved the full amount of statutory damages sought by our clients.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Complaint filed against debt collection agency

A class-action complaint has been filed against CollectionCenter Wyoming, a debt collection agency. The plaintiff alleged that CollectionCenter Wyoming sent collection notices for past due medical bills after a judgment was ordered in Laramie County Circuit Court. This was in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

CollectionCenter Wyoming had garnished the plaintiff's wages for the past due medical bills. The funds to cover the garnishment were paid to the Clerk of the Court. However, a month later, the debt collection agency sent another notice to the plaintiff.

In addition, according to the court documents, the debt collection agency included private identifying information in its court filings that could lead to identity theft.

A prior complaint against CollectionCenter Wyoming stating the collection agency had made continued attempts to collect on a debt after the claims on that debt were dismissed has been settled and the suit was dropped with prejudice.

Monday, June 1, 2009

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Investigating Debt Collection Firms

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he is expanding his probe into twenty bill collection and debt collection firms for abusive or deceptive debt collection practices. Cuomo's office shut down two of Lamont Cooper's firms, called Emanee Development, Inc. and Dial Tech LLC. Allegedly, the firms violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The Attorney General's Office plans to look into collection practices and how bill collection and debt collection firms deal with complaints. The Attorney General's goal is to stop the harassing phone calls, frivolous lawsuit threats made by the bill collectors or debt collectors, and any other violations of the law.

If you are being harassed by bill collectors or debt collectors, contact us.