Debt Collections, Collection Agencies and Fair Debt Collection Practices
Nationally Recognized Leaders Among Consumer Lawyers
Our law firm is experienced in representing people who are targeted for harassment by debt collectors. We know the debt collection industry. We teach other lawyers how to maximize the value of their clients’ cases at state and national conferences.
There is no mistake about it—if a debt collector wants money from you, they design their collection “strategy” to force you into submission. We take on abusive, oppressive, and fraudulent debt collectors. We carefully screen our clients and devote time, resources, and energy to maximizing your recovery for upset and distress caused by abusive debt collection. Because of our focused attention, we do not handle minor violations that don’t cause serious harm.
Disputing the Debt
You may not owe the debt or may not owe the amount sought. By law you can dispute debt you are being asked to pay and ask for proof. Do this in writing. If you aren’t satisfied with the proof you received, then you can write to the debt collector telling them you refuse to pay the debt or to not contact you. Contact us for a Free Case Review.
Wrong Party Collection
Are you being contacted for a debt that you don’t owe? The first step in wrong party collection is to figure out whether you are a victim of identity theft, whether you are being mixed with someone else, or whether your phone number is associated with someone else that owes a debt. Whatever the case, you can dispute the debt and/or request no contact. Contact us for a Free Case Review.
Your Rights Against Debt Collectors
Debt collectors must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money. If you dispute the debt, write the debt collector and tell them exactly why you dispute the debt. Send you letter by certified mail. Send copies of any important records. Keep copies of everything you send.
If you know that you do not owe it or that you don’t recognize the debt, tell them. Ask for proof, like a signature on the application or charge receipts. Be fair and plain. Don’t make threats. Document any abusive contact by the debt collector in your letter. They must stop collection until they respond in writing.
You have a right to be free from harassment such as:
• Threats of violence or harm;
• Obscene or profane language; or,
• Repeated use of the phone to annoy.
Debt collectors may not lie such as:
• Falsely threaten arrest;
• Claim that they are from law enforcement;
• Falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
• Misrepresent the amount you owe;
• Indicate that papers they send you are from a court if they are not;
• Falsely claim that a lawsuit will be filed against you if it cannot be due to the passage of time; or,
• Threaten suit if they don’t intend to sue (i.e., they never sue).
Debt collectors also are prohibited from saying that:
• You will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt.
• They’ll garnish your wages or seize, attach, or sell your property, unless they are permitted by law to take such action and intend to do so.
• Legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take such action.
If you owe a debt, debt collectors can take reasonable steps to collect the debt, including calling you a reasonable number of times seeking payment and payment agreements. Debt collectors cannot call you at work if you tell them in writing or over the phone to stop.
Many debt collectors don’t listen and don’t care – they only stop harassment if they get sued. Don’t delay. Federal law requires you to file suit within one year of the violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and state laws vary, but most Oklahoma state law claims for debt collection harassment or abuse should be filed within two years.
The Junk Debt Buyer Industry
Many times old debt charged off as unrecoverable is bought and sold for pennies on the dollar. In a 2017 United States Supreme Court decision Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor joined together to state:
“Professional debt collectors have built a business out of buying stale debt, filing claims in bankruptcy proceedings to collect it, and hoping that no one notices that the debt is too old to be enforced by the courts. This practice is both “unfair” and “unconscionable.”
— Dissenting Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan
Often the alleged debt is sold so many times that they have no idea who you really are, whether you owe the particular debt or how much is truly owed. Put the debt collector to his burden and make him prove that you owe the debt. In your letter to the debt collector be polite, fair, and to the point. It is your job to let them know that you want proof and to confirm you asked them. Send your letter by certified mail to every address on the collection letter and keep a copy of the letter and the signed green card.
Free Case Review
If you live in Oklahoma or New Mexico we can assist you directly. If you live in another state, we have co-counsel relationships in many states and may be able to offer you representation with locally licensed counsel or a referral.