Questions related to appeals, FDCPA violations and dispute letters

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Ali Hunter has a good question, “What are attorneys fees for small claims appeal?”

Questions related to appeals, FDCPA violations and dispute lettersI’ll answer this based on Alabama, since that’s where I practice.

If you’re in Small Claims or District court and you lose, and this is true, whether you’ve sued or you have been sued, you have the automatic right to appeal to Circuit court.

That’s the court where we do jury trials. And when you appeal it, it’s not like a normal appeal where you have to justify or argue to the higher court that the lower court made some error.

Once it’s appealed, it starts all over in circuit court. And there’s a filing fee that you have to pay for the appeal.

Typically our attorneys fee is about the same as what it would have been had someone hired us in Small Claims or District court.

So if you’re in Alabama, feel free to get with us.

We’ll be glad to chat with you about that. If you’re in another state, obviously talk to lawyers in your state about how that appeals process works and what the fees will be both to court, and also the attorneys fee.

I hope that that’s helpful, Ali.

We have T town driver asking, “How long can they collect on a credit card debt?”

So this is on a video about debt validation under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. He says, “Thanks for this, John. In Alabama, is it a violation for a collection agency to report a purchase debt after the statute limitations?” and then it gives an example.

Let me back up and say it this way. There are three time periods that a debt collector has to collect on a debt.

The first time period would be collecting on the debt itself.

If they’re incredibly careful, and most are not, it’s unlimited.

So the statute of limitations could be gone, the time for credit reporting could be gone, but they can still collect on it.

The problem is, they almost always will fumble this and it’s not by accident.

They know exactly what they’re doing.

And when they make that mistake or that error, then we sue them for that.

The other time period is the statute of limitations.

So how long do they have to see in Alabama? That can be three years, four years, six years. And so that’s the time period to see.

The final time period is the time to credit report.

I think this is what the comment is about.

So that’s totally unrelated to the statute of limitations. Sometimes they’re similar, but just because statutee of limitations has expired does not affect the ability of a collector to credit report. So collector can credit report, basically seven years after the first major delinquency.

Usually, the first major delinquency is when we’re six months behind. So then you add seven years on to that.

“Now, what if I have my first major delinquency in 2013 and the debt collector gets the account in 2017?”

Well, it doesn’t matter when they get it. We go back to the first major delinquency in 2013.

So go forward seven years, they can report it into 2020. Now, if my first major delinquencies in 2000. In 2018 they better not be reporting it now.

And sometimes we see that they will report after the time period. That’s what is called re-aging.

Sometimes they’ll manipulate the data to look like, instead of having that delinquency in 2011, it looks like I went into delinquency in 2016. And they go on and report for seven more years.

Well, they could if it was accurate information, but since they lied, I’m going to sue them for that under the FDCPA.

I hope that that’s helpful!

Just keep in mind those different time periods.

One is to sue you, one is just to collect. In essence, there’s no limit on collecting the debt.

And then the credit reporting, that’s seven years from the date of the first major delinquency.

Another way to say this is seven and a half years from when things started first going bad.

If you want more information on that, just contact my office.

Let’s look at this last comment. It says,  “Thank you for posting videos. They’re very informative. How much do you charge to make a consumer version of a dispute letter I can send out myself?”

I’m assuming that this is a dispute letter sent directly to a debt collector. As far as what we charge for that, we don’t charge.

You can copy and paste the dispute form from another article we have on dispute letters.

We don’t charge for that or doing dispute letters to credit bureaus.

We have some examples out there on our website, and if somebody hires us to help them to do a dispute to the credit bureaus, we don’t charge for that if it gets fixed.

I don’t make any money, but hopefully I have a really happy client who will remember me and maybe refer people to me, etc.

But if it’s truly incorrect information, and we dispute it to the credit bureaus, and it doesn’t get fixed, then that’s when we make our money. We sue the bad guys and they’ve got to pay you money. They pay us money and they have to take it off your credit report.

So everybody’s happy. I mean, the credit bureaus and the furnishers aren’t happy, but you and I are happy. So that’s good. That’s how we do it.

That’s been our business model for many, many years. And it seems to work for us.

Hope this was helpful to you!

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with our office.

You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447, or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you quickly.

We’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.

Have a great day!

-John G. Watts

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