What does an FDCPA lawyer do for consumers like you?

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FDCPA lawyers help stop abusive debt collectors from harassing you — the best way to do this is to sue the lawbreaking collectors and make them pay you money damages.

“So what is the FDCPA?”
FDCPA stands for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is a federal law passed in the 1970s to stop abusive debt collectors.

The law was passed and continues to be on the books because so many collectors violate the law and this is unfair for two reasons.

First, it is unfair to consumers as people with access to our credit reports, credit information, personal financial information, etc. should not be allowed to harass us. We’ll talk about some examples later in this article.

Second, it is unfair for abusive collectors to operate in the marketplace because it hurts the law abiding honorable debt collectors. The ones that follow the rules are at a competitive disadvantage to those collectors who break the law. Imagine a football game where one team often has 12 or 13 players on the field at one time. That’s an advantage but it also is called cheating and there is a price to pay.

“Do collectors really break the law?”
Yes.

The slightly longer answer is that because breaking the law gives a competitive advantage in the marketplace, many collectors give in to the temptation to cheat because it means higher profits and it hurts their competition.

So a for profit business naturally and rightfully wants to increase profits. Nothing wrong with this.

And if increasing profits causes your competitors to lose business or even go out of business, then that’s considered a nice bonus.

Abusive debt collectors are not normally abusive just because they hate consumers. It usually is not “personal” — it is just a business owner creating an environment where the business happily breaks the law to make more money.

It just so happens that in doing this, consumers are abused.

“What are some examples of debt collectors breaking the law?”
The two basic rules for debt collectors are:

First, don’t lie to consumers.

Second, don’t be unfair or harassing to consumers.

Examples of lying to consumers:
**Suing you for $7,000 when you owe nothing to the debt buyer (LVNV, Midland, Portfolio, etc).
**Telling you that you will be sued when the collector has no intention of suing you **Telling you that you will be garnished when there is no basis to garnish you **Telling you that you can’t “dispute” a debt **Lying to you by saying the collection account will never come off of your credit reports **Lying about how you cannot file bankruptcy anymore **Telling you that you owe a certain amount on your mortgage when you owe a lesser amount
Examples of unfair or harassing conduct:
**Suing you after the statute of limitations has expired **Calling your neighbors or family members (other than your spouse)
**Calling your co-workers **Using profanity or racial slurs against you **Garnishing you when there is no right to garnish **Suing you for an amount that you don’t owe
As you can see, a lot of times conduct can be a lie and can also be unfair/harassing.

“What can I get by suing under the FDCPA?”
When you sue an abusive debt collector in federal court, you can get the following:
1. Statutory damages of up to $1,000

2. Actual damages to compensate you for any economic losses or emotional distress

3. Costs of filing and prosecuting the lawsuit

4. Attorney fees
“Should I do this on my own or hire a lawyer?”
Sometimes folks think it would be cheaper to not hire an attorney. But unlike a lot of other types of cases, you don’t pay us any money to file your lawsuit.

And we only get paid if we win the case — either a judgment or a settlement. Remember also that the debt collector can be forced to pay our attorney fee. Usually this is worked into the settlement as the collectors know that our hourly rate is $400 an hour as I’m writing this now.

This causes collectors to have to decide if they want to fight or if they want to settle. If they fight, and they know they will lose, the price of the case will go up every step of the way because of the attorney fees.

The other factor is that you will be in federal court — most trial attorneys are not even comfortable in federal court due to the complexity of the rules. So if you, as a non lawyer, want to represent yourself then you must be prepared to know the rules.

“If I want to know more about my options, what should I do now?”
Give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be happy to help you think through your options.

There is, of course, no obligation to hire us and no fee for us to speak.

Let’s talk about your options and what is the best approach for you to take with the debt collector you are dealing with….

Normally it is suing them which puts money in your pocket, discourages bad behavior in general and certainly makes the collector leave you alone. Overall, very good things happen when we sue the bad guys.

I look forward to speaking to you — call us at 205-879-2447.

John G. Watts

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