In 2015 consumer credit card debt in the United States surged by approximately $71 billion to a total of $917.7 billion owed. Inevitably, some of this credit card debt will go delinquent, sometimes through no fault of the consumer, i.e. job loss / underemployment, unexpected medical expenses, divorce, medical disability and financial illiteracy. Regardless, the bank will not wait long before commencing collection attempts either through in house collection departments or by referring the delinquent accounts to third party debt collectors.
Many consumers have never encountered a debt collector. Some may be fearful or reluctant to take a debt collector’s call or read letters about credit card debts they owe. It is always better for the consumer to face the facts and deal with debt collectors, while at the same time knowing and understanding their rights and protections against bill collectors using harassing, dishonest, or even illegal collection tactics.
For example, a debt collector may not call you repeatedly at work if your boss doesn’t allow it, or if it’s not a convenient time for you to talk. It’s also not lawful to call your relatives or people you know about your debt. Robo collection calls to your cell phone after you tell them to stop are illegal and punishable by $500-$1500 per call. False threats to sue or garnish your social security or other property if you don’t pay old credit card bills are also illegal. These collection strategies violate Michigan and Federal consumer laws commonly known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Michigan Occupation Code and the Michigan Regulation of Collection Practice Act.
Consumers who allow debt collectors to obtain default judgments against them may have their wages, bank account and tax refunds garnished. Debt collectors and debt buyers will purchase credit card debts for pennies on the dollar and then file collection lawsuits without proper documentation, hoping to get default judgments. Nine times out of ten, the consumer does not answer the collection lawsuit; when he or she has legal defenses. Often times these collection lawsuits with supporting affidavits violate consumer protection laws. There are many affirmative legal defenses to a debt buyer collection lawsuit, and in many cases a judge will order the debt collector/buyer to pay the consumer’s legal fees for defending frivolous action collection actions.
In Michigan, it is illegal to sue for collection of a debt where no payment has been made within six years of filing the collection lawsuit. Payment on debt revives the SOL for another 6 years. It is also illegal for the collector to ask for payment without advising the consumer that debt is a “stale” debt and is no longer legally enforceable.
Knowledge is power. An educated consumer is a better consumer, and the first place to look for answers on what is and isn’t allowed when debt collectors come calling is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This federal law, was enacted in 1977 to curb abuses by third-party debt collection agencies, and provides protections against harassment, threats, unwanted calls to the workplace and disclosing the existence of debts to employers, friends, family and neighbors.
The basic provisions of debtor rights law include:
• The right of consumers to sue debt collectors individually or in class actions for violations of the law.
• Protection against harassment, including excessive phone calls, robo calls (computer generated calls) to cell phones, abusive language and threats of violence, harm or arrest.
• Prohibiting disclosure of the existence of debts to third parties including improper credit reporting.
• Banning contact with consumers at inconvenient times, such as before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
• Permitting consumers to ask for written proof that they actually owe a debt.
Calling consumers repeatedly, hanging up, calling and not saying anything, anonymous phone calls, robo dialing, using interactive voice recognition systems or any other telephone behavior intended to annoy, harass or abuse the consumer, their family members, neighbors or co-workers is also prohibited by the law.
Will this cost me any money?
We would never charge you anything up front to take on your Collection Harassment case. We would only take on a case such as this on a contingency basis – meaning we would only be directly paid out of any money that we recover for you on your behalf.
If we don’t recover anything for you, then there would of course be no charge at all.
So if you are experiencing Collection Harassment and want more information on how to make it stop, call Rex Anderson PC for help and Stop Collection Harassment today.
For more information, call: (810) 653-3300 / (800) 4-ATTY-REX today, or send a confidential email to: firstname.lastname@example.org – we look forward to being of assistance.