If you are going through financial difficulties and have fallen behind on payments to creditors, you likely experience the unrelenting telephone calls of creditors seeking payment. A previous client once told me that she received over 40 telephone calls from debt collectors in a single day! It is to be expected that a creditor wants to contact you to discuss the missed or late payment, however, it is important to know that collectors are governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) which prohibits certain types of contact and conduct on the part of a collector.
For instance, did you know that collectors are prohibited from threatening lawsuits, garnishments, liens or arrest for not paying a bill? Likewise, they cannot call your family, friends, neighbors, or your employer to collect a debt. Bill collectors are in violation of the FDCPA if they leave abusive phone messages, if they insult, swear, yell, lie, threaten, call you early in the morning or late at night, or otherwise harass you. If you have experienced these behaviors by a debt collector you may be entitled to compensation. The FDCPA not only provides for statutory damages up to $1,000 and actual damages, it requires the offending debt collector to pay any attorney’s fees and court costs you incur. If we agree to represent you in your FDCPA case, you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we recover on your behalf.
In evaluating your case it is important that you (1) save copies of all letters and notices from collection agencies; (2) save all phone messages and voice mails (very important); (3) make note of your conversations with bill collectors; and (4) contact a consumer rights attorney to help you recover damages. To help you keep good records of the contacts you receive, we have prepared a collection communications log for your to write down information on contacts from debt collectors. Click here for a copy of the collections communication log.
The FDCPA is a powerful tool in holding collections agencies accountable under the law. Likewise, if you are in a position where a bankruptcy filing is necessary, a benefit to a bankruptcy filing is that the court will issue an order that will require creditors to stop calling you. The court’s order, known as the Automatic Stay, bars any collections efforts against you. Specifically, creditors will not be able to foreclose or repossess property, sue you, or even call you on the phone. If debt collectors have in any way violated the FDCPA, either before or after your bankruptcy case if filed, you may still be entitled to damages for their unlawful conduct.
JacksonWhite offers a free consultation to discuss FDCPA violation as well as to discuss Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy options.