There’s a right way and a wrong way to collect a debt.
We believe that people should pay their just debts. However, the law requires creditors — especially third-party creditors — to collect debts in a respectful, dignified manner. Further, the law forbids the collection of certain debts, often because of the age of the debt or because it has been discharged in bankruptcy. Debtors benefit greatly from hiring an attorney who is familiar with how both federal and state law govern the collection of their debts.
We are experienced in handling these matters, including asserting counterclaims for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and other state and federal law. Believe it or not, third-party debt collectors routinely violate these laws, and most violations go unpunished because debtors are simply not aware of their rights.
The big business of debt
If someone is trying to collect a debt from you now, you may not even recognize who is attempting to collect. This is because it has become commonplace for creditors to sell their debts to third-party creditors. Often, the original creditor will sell the debt for pennies on the dollar, and the third-party creditors make their money by successfully collecting all or a substantial portion of the debt. Sometimes the collection of these debts is barred by statutes of limitation, but third-party collectors recklessly (and sometimes knowingly) attempt to collect these “zombie debts” anyway. These practices are abusive, illegal, and, most importantly, punishable by stiff statutory penalties.
I just got served with a lawsuit for a debt that I don’t owe. Do I have to respond?
Yes, you should file an answer stating all of your defenses. If you fail to file an answer, the plaintiff will win without a fight, and you will be required to pay the judgment that the court awards to the plaintiff.
Okay, I filed my answer. Now the plaintiff has mailed me “Requests for Admission” and other discovery. I’m not going to admit to any of this, so I don’t have to respond, right?
Wrong. If you don’t respond, you are legally admitting each and every statement in the document. This is how many defendants in debt-collection actions lose their cases.
I know that I owed this debt, but it was originally with a different creditor. What could go wrong if I just settle with the third-party debt collector?
One should be extremely cautious when dealing with third-party collectors. Often, they are completely unable to establish that they are legally entitled to collect the debt. If you pay someone who claims to have the legal right to collect on a debt and in fact does not, what do you say to the rightful creditor when it appears to collect on the same debt? Payment to the wrong party will be no defense.