Last year, more than 77 million Americans had debt payments that were put into collections according to the Urban Institute. While this staggering number of people struggled to pay down their debt, many were bombarded by aggressive debt collectors who often illegally harassed consumers in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Hiring a consumer advocacy law firm that promotes an ongoing commitment to fight for consumer rights against illegal debt-collector harassment is a preferable option for those intimidated by the process. In many cases, the right law firm not only protects against harassment and lawsuits related to debt collection practices, but also earns monetary damages for their clients.
How Debt Happens
No one plans to land in debt. Debt, however, can fast and furiously accumulate through irresponsible credit card usage, medical emergencies, personal or family crises, divorce, loss of employment, declining home values, business failures or natural disasters.
Although you may be tempted to simply ignore the ever-growing debt, that will only exacerbate the problem over time. Suddenly, predatory debt collectors are threatening a debt lawsuit by knocking on your door or calling your phones day and night demanding debt resolution. That is the time to seek a team of seasoned debt defense lawyers to help navigate the choppy waters of fighting debt, avoiding lawsuits and understanding your rights to actually fight back from a position of strength instead of weakness.
“Collection agencies know that many people do not know their rights and that they can sue debt collectors for harassment,” asserts Chantel Grant, Esq., a lawsuit debt specialist and Senior Partner at the GM Law Firm in Boca Raton, Florida. Chantel Grant is an expert in dealing with unfair debt-related lawsuits and explains, “It does not matter if you owe the debt or not, you have to understand that you have rights to fight back against harassing violators.”
Understanding Debt Collector Harassment
According to the FDCPA, harassment from debt collectors can appear in many different forms including:
· Repeated and continuous phone calls, often several times per week.
· Calling before 8am or after 9pm.
· Calling at a workplace.
· Using obscene, profane or abusive language.
· Threatening violence, arrest or legal action if they fail to pay.
· Not identifying themselves as debt collectors or refusing to give an accurate name.
· Speaking with someone else — like an employer, friend or family member — about your debt.
· Threatening to publish your information on a “bad debt list”.
If you are faced with an unfair debt-related lawsuit and harassing activities, you are definitely not alone. This is one of the worst frustrations experienced by clients who are unable to pay back their debt. However, irrespective of what you say to debt collectors on the phone, the calls come through indefinitely. Ultimately, one of the only ways to stop this harassment means hiring a qualified attorney. They will take over your debt negotiations with your credit card companies and banks will now be dealing directly with the law firm.
Once the debt resolution process is initiated by your attorneys, there’s no need for you to ever speak to another debt collector or lender again. The law firm takes over all communications with your debt collectors. It’s important to know your rights before a debt lawsuit happens and have the backing of experienced legal counsel.
Lawsuits Can Also Win Monetary Settlements Against Debt Collectors
The FDCPA provides a range of damages that can be won in a lawsuit including monetary damages, attorney fees and more.
If a debt collector violates the FDCPA and you sue the collector in court, you might be able to recover the following types of damages:
· Monetary Damages for Physical Distress
Some debtors suffer actual physical damage from the barrage of debt collection calls and letters, including stress-related heart problems, migraine headaches and skin rashes.
· Damages for Emotional Distress
Relentless telephone calls and collection letters cause real stress and can affect a debtor’s emotional well-being. The debtor’s marriage and other relationships might suffer. Also, calls to a debtor’s coworkers and family members can be an incredible invasion of privacy. All of these occurrences should be documented and discussed with an attorney.
· Lost Wages Recovered
Debtors might face problems at work because debt collectors call and disrupt the debtor’s productivity, as well as the productivity of debtor’s coworkers. When debtor collectors violate the FDCPA through calls to the debtor’s employer, the debtor might be able to recover lost wages.
· Wage Garnishment Recovery
If a paycheck has been garnished by a debt collector that has violated the FDCPA, it might be possible for the debtor to recover these funds.
· Statutory Damages of $1,000
Above and beyond what the consumer might collect for losses related to lost wages, physical and psychological distress, etc. the FDCPA allows a consumer to recover damages up to $1,000 from the collector.
· Attorney Fees and Costs
In cases where the debtor successfully proves that an FDCPA violation occurred, the court may allow recovery of attorney fees and costs.
Knowing your rights is empowering and the GM Law Firm is one example of legal experts with experience in debt related lawsuits. Debt doesn’t have to be a financial death sentence and instead can turn into a positive resolution to get your life back into the black.