We often see Alabama consumers filing bankruptcy for the sole reason of getting abusive collection agencies or debt collectors to leave them alone. The harassment from law breaking debt collectors can become unbearable for many Alabama consumers who then feel their only choice is to file bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy normally hurts your credit score and in particular when creditors refuse to follow the law on accurately reporting your accounts that have been discharged. Sometimes there is no alternative but to file bankruptcy but other times the best option to deal with abusive collection agencies is simply to sue them. That’s what we do – we sue debt collectors who break the law.
The abuse by collection agencies became so bad that Congress passed the federal law of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to deal with the illegal conduct of abusive debt collectors. While there are numerous ways that debt collectors break the law – in general they do so in the following ways:
1. Lying to consumers 2. Abusing consumers by calling more often than allowed, using abusive language, calling neighbors and co-workers to harass the consumer, etc.
3. Putting false information on credit reports.
4. Suing consumers when the collector has no basis to do so.
We’ll quickly examine these areas and then deal with them in more detail in later posts.
Collectors cannot lie – this seems so obvious but it obviously is not enforced at many collection agencies. The attitude seems to be its open season on consumers and to lie to get the consumer to pay (whether they owe or not) is just the way business is done. If you have been lied to by an abusive debt collector – for example “you’ll go to jail if you don’t pay” or “we already sued you” when you have not been sued or “we’ll call the DA to see if we can stop the arrest” or “we can garnish your wages with a phone call” or “you’ll never get this off your credit” or “you can’t file bankruptcy – Congress did away with that” or anything similar, then you may very well have a legitimate lawsuit against the abusive collector for federal and state law claims.
Abusive Collectors – often times the strategy of collectors is to “wear you out” by calling every hour, using profanity, or embarrassing you by calling your neighbors or co-workers. When this happens, you should consider suing the abusive collection agency for violating federal law and state privacy laws.
Putting false information on credit reports – this is a particularly nasty “dirty trick” of collectors. Either they will put items on your credit report that you don’t owe or they will “re-age” the account so it will stay on your credit report longer than it should. This type of misconduct should be met very strongly to punish and discourage this type of illegal conduct.
Suing consumers when there is no basis to do so – in Alabama hundreds of lawsuits are filed every month against Alabama consumers. A good percentage of these suits are bogus. Either the consumer flat out does not owe it or the collector (usually a debt buyer of “junk debt” or “zombie debt”) has no intention of proving its case and is simply hoping the consumer will default by not fighting the suit. We have blogged about this problem by reminding Alabama consumers that debt buyers must prove they own the debt and that the consumer owes the debt. Remember, when you defeat the debt buyer at trial (or they dismiss it with prejudice in Alabama), then you need to go on the offensive and clear your credit report of this false account.
We will be glad to discuss your options with you if you have been the victim of one of these forms of collector abuse (or any other type of collection agency abuse) – simply fill out the form on the left hand side of this page and that will alert us to your situation and we will promptly follow up with you directly by one of our lawyers.
(You can also find more information about dealing with abusive debt collectors on our website by clicking here).
Another resource for you is to join our Facebook Fan Page – Alabama Consumer Protection Attorneys where we share useful information about the same types of issues that we cover in this blog.