Fast Answers to Your Most Pressing Debt Collection and Credit Reporting Questions
Can a collection company call multiple times per day? Can a creditor really increase your interest rate if you cannot pay your bills? If you have a question about debt collection, credit reporting, or any other issues related to consumer law, our FAQ section might provide the answer you need right now. If it doesn't, contact us using the contact form or the toll-free number and we'll answer it for you within 24 hours!
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Why am I being contacted by multiple debt collectors for the same debt?
It’s confusing enough to get a call about an old debt you didn’t know you had, much less to get calls from multiple people about that same debt. Believe it or not, this happens all the time. While it doesn’t necessarily indicate fraud, it could mean that someone somewhere along the line has violated your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and not only will you not owe the debt, THEY may owe YOU damages. Let me explain.
Debts Are Often Sold Multiple Times
It is often not worth a creditor’s time to work too hard make you pay what you owe. After all, collecting debt is not their primary role. The creditor may be a credit card company, whose purpose is to lend money and collect it, but it could also be a medical clinic, cable or cell phone provider, or your town’s tax department. These service providers will send bills for several months, perhaps adding fees with each month you don’t pay, maybe calling you to follow up, and that’s about all they have the time and resources to do. After that, they will likely sell the bill to a collection agency. They may sell it for 10 cents on the dollar, but at least they have some money back in their pockets.
Now the debt collector has the potential to collect on the full amount of the debt they bought for a fraction of that. And they are often successful. People are more threatened by a collection agency calling than the cable company, for example, and many pay up without a fight. However, if the debt collector has made several attempts and can’t get anything from you, he will probably sell the debt on to another agency, maybe for 25 cents on the dollar. He has made a bit of a profit, and now a third agency has your information and will start calling you. This is how you end up with multiple agencies trying to collect the same debt, but it doesn’t mean you are in any more trouble than you were when you first missed the payment, even if it feels like it.
How This May Mean You Have a Case
No matter who is contacting you about the debt, they have to be able to provide documentation of the validity of the debt. They have to show how much you owe, to whom you originally owed it, and that it is actually YOU who owes it. As debts are sold again and again, documents and contracts are often lost. If a debt collector is contacting you without having all of this documentation in order, he is violating the law.
Call Me If You Are Confused
If you are being contacted about a debt you suspect has been sold multiple times, try my FREE debt collection blocker and then call me. My advice is always free, and I don’t collect a fee unless we win damages for you.
Should I panic if my debt is “sent to legal?”
No, you should not panic, but you should respond. This is a common threat from creditors and debt collectors to try to scare you into paying a debt that may not even be yours or may be more than you actually owe. So, what can a creditor’s legal department do? It’s more a question of what they have to do to prove you owe the debt. Let me explain.
Is it an Empty Threat?
When a creditor threatens to send your debt to legal, what he is really threatening you with is a lawsuit. What he’s hoping is that the threat will be enough to get you to pay what they say you owe, because they don’t really want to take legal action. Fortunately for them, the tactic often works. People panic when threatened with a lawsuit and decide to just pay the debt, regardless of whether the debt is really theirs.
Even when the creditor or debt collector does follow through and file the lawsuit, many defendants don’t respond to the suit and the creditor wins by default. At this point, the court will order you to pay the debt. Now you are really on the hook.
Remember That the Burden of Proof Is on Them
So what should you do when threatened with a lawsuit? First of all, call me! I will help you defend yourself against the suit. Our chances of winning are good, because now the burden of proof is on the debt collector. He must be able to provide solid proof that the debt is yours, that the amount is accurate, and that he is the one who is owed. Because debts can pass through many different hands as they are sold to collection agencies, key documents can be lost. If the debt collector cannot produce the required evidence, you will owe him nothing and he will even have to pay your legal fees.
Contact Me When You Are Being Threatened
If you are being threatened over a debt that you don’t believe is yours—or even if you know it is yours—don’t be scared into giving in, but don’t ignore it, either. Contact me online or call my office directly at 855.982.2400 to learn more about your options. I am committed to protecting the rights of Californians and fighting against unlawful debt collection practices.
Am I covered under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act?
Considering that this powerful legislation protects servicemembers from high interest rates, penalties for breaking leases, and some civil court judgements, it’s important that you know whether you are covered or not. Simply put, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to all active-duty military personnel—but does that apply to you? Find out here!
What the Law Says About SCRA
The SCRA was enacted in 2003 and has been amended several times since then. The law is designed to ease financial burdens on servicemembers during periods of military service. Under the law, the following servicemembers are covered:
- Full-time active duty members of the five military branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard)
- Reservists on federal active duty
- Members of the National Guard on federal orders for a period of more than 30 days
- Servicemembers absent from duty for a lawful cause or because of sickness
- Commissioned officers in active service of the Public Health Service (PHS) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Servicemembers’ dependents, including a spouse, children, and any other person for whom the servicemember has provided more than half of their financial support for the past 180 days
For most servicemembers, SCRA protections begin on the date they enter active duty military service. For military reservists, protections begin upon the receipt of certain military orders. If you are still not sure if you are eligible for the benefits provided by SCRA, do not hesitate to call me to find out!
How I Help Servicemembers Protect Their Credit
If you think someone isn't respecting your SCRA rights, call me and I will evaluate your case—for FREE! Not only does the law provide for criminal penalties for violators of SCRA, it also entitles you to sue the violator in order to fix what they did wrong and to pay attorney fees if we win. So you truly have nothing to lose by calling me if you think your rights have been violated. As a Marine Reservist myself, I am proud to help those serving in our armed forces.
Contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 and let's talk about how I can help!
Will having a debt collector after me lower my credit score?
This one is easy—YES! Having a debt in collections will definitely affect your credit score. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. Arm yourself by understanding what debt collection is, why it affects your credit score, and what you can do to fight back.
Why Did Your Debt Get Sent to a Collector?
The people you owe money to—whether it is a medical office, utility, cell phone company, contractor, or anyone else—can only spend so much time trying to get you to pay a bill. Most service providers have a written policy about past-due accounts and will send your account to a collection agency after a certain time period—typically 180 days. Either the original creditor or the debt collector will then inform Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion that you have an account in collection. The credit reporting agency will mark that account “in collection” on your credit report—not something you want potential creditors to see!
What Will That Do to Your Credit Score?
That all depends on how much you owe. A collection on a debt of less than $100 shouldn’t affect your score at all, but anything over $100 could cause a big drop. In many cases, it doesn’t even matter how much it is if it’s over $100. Whether you owe $500 or $150,000, you may see a credit score drop of 100 points or more, depending on where you started. To make matters worse, a paid collection on your credit report is just as bad as an unpaid collection. Why? Well, creditors are looking at your report to determine how much of a risk they are taking by lending you money, so any indication that you don’t pay your bills on time will be a red flag for them.
So, What Can You Do?
The best thing to do is not allow a debt to go to collections. Easy, right? Not for everybody, I know. If the debt really is yours, you will want to communicate with the debt collector to see if you can negotiate a settlement that works for you. If you don’t work with the collection agency, they could sell your debt to another collector and now you will have two collection notices on your credit report for the same debt—not good!
There is always the possibility that the collection notice is on your credit report in error. In that case, you should take steps to correct your credit report as soon as possible. If you can’t get it corrected in a timely manner, call me!
Finally, if you have been harassed in any way by the collection agency, you can sue them to make them stop and for monetary damages. You may even be able to get the debt removed from your credit report.
Work With Me to Take Action
If you are being harassed by a debt collector or are struggling to get your credit report corrected, call me to help you. Together, we can hold these unscrupulous providers accountable for breaking the law and get you the break you need to get back on track. Contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 and let's get things started.
Can a debt collection agency garnish my wages?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes—but not without jumping through some hoops first, which gives you an opportunity to stop them. When you call me as soon as a debt collector contacts you, we may be able to prevent wage garnishment.
What Does a Debt Collector Have to Do to Garnish My Wages?
When you owe money for medical bills or are way overdue on credit cards, your debt may be passed on to a debt collection agency. The goal of a debt collector is to get you to pay up—sometimes by any means necessary, even if it means breaking the law. Debt collectors are not allowed to threaten or harass you, but many of them do. If a debt collector is harassing you, you can not only make them stop, you can make them pay. Sometimes the damages awarded for debt collection harassment can wipe out the debt you were being harassed over in the first place! However, not every debt collector breaks the law in this way, and if he decides to take legal action against you, it could result in wage garnishment.
In order to garnish your wages, a debt collector will have to sue you for the debt and win. Then, if the judge approves it, he can garnish your wages to pay back the debt.
What Can We Do to Stop Debt Collectors From Garnishing Your Wages?
If the debt collector has not broken the law in order to collect on the debt—and remember, threatening you by mail or over the phone is illegal!—you will not be able to sue him for damages. If he sues you to collect on the debt, however, we may be able to defend you with one of the following arguments:
- The debt he is suing you for is not yours.
- He does not have the proper documentation to prove the validity of the debt.
- The statute of limitations on the debt has expired.
If these arguments are ineffective and a judge rules in the debt collector’s favor, I may still be able to work out a payment arrangement that does not involve wage garnishment.
You Do Have Debt Collection Options
The sooner you contact me about a debt collector, the more options we will have to fight back. Don’t let your situation escalate into a lawsuit. Call me today at 415.802.0137 to discuss your options!
When and where can a debt collector call me?
Phone calls that interrupt dinner are annoying, but calls that wake you up early in the morning or late at night are downright infuriating. When that call comes from someone trying to collect on a debt, it’s even worse. Debt collectors rely on telephone calls to reach consumers because they are hoping to persuade, trick, or bully them into paying a debt they may or may not owe. Fortunately, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects you from disruptive or abusive phone calls.
What Debt Collection Calls Are Off Limits?
You can’t exercise rights you don’t know about, so it’s important that you know when and where debt collectors are barred from calling you. Here’s an overview:
- Debt collectors cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They can still send emails or text messages at any time, however.
- Once you tell them not to, debt collectors cannot call you at work. Many workers are not allowed to take personal calls at work, or just don’t have the time to deal with a call while they are working. Once you ask the collector to stop calling you at work, they must comply.
- Repeated or continual calls, even between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., are not allowed. Debt collectors cannot keep calling you over the same issue. If you have disputed the debt in writing, they must stop calling you altogether.
- Telling your friends, family, or coworkers about the debt is forbidden. A debt collector may call others in an attempt to locate you, but may not reveal information about the debt to them.
If a debt collector violates any of these calling rules, not only can he be stopped, but he may also owe you damages. For some of our clients, this means not only is the collector held accountable for breaking the law, but their debt is wiped out!
Are You Being Harassed By A Debt Collector?
If a debt collector is harassing you, our experienced consumer financial protection attorneys can make it stop. It doesn’t matter if you really do owe the debt, you are still protected from harassment! Contact me online or call me directly at 415.802.0137 to put a stop to the abuse today!
What can I do if a debt collector is harassing me?
You do not have to put up with annoying calls from debt collectors. In fact, if a debt collector is harassing you, he is breaking the law and you can do more than stop him—you can sue him for damages. How do you know when a debt collector has crossed the line? What can you do about it? Read on!
What Is Debt Collection Harassment?
I’ve explained debt harassment in more detail in other articles on our website, but as a quick reminder, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from calling you repeatedly, annoying and verbally abusing you, threatening you, and using obscene language, among other things. Basically, if the calls are bothering you, it is probably harassment and you do not have to take it.
So, What Can You Do About Debt Collectors Contacting You?
The very first time a debt collector calls you, record the call if possible. At the very least, make a note of who called, the date and time of the call, what was said, and what they claim you owe. After this first call, use our free Collection Blocker letter to stop them from calling you again. They can contact you one more time to inform you of their next move, but if they call you after that, call me! I will tell you now what I will tell you when you call—keep track of every call you get and every letter they send. This will be evidence in your lawsuit against them.
You Do Not Deserve to Be Treated This Way
It does not matter if you actually owe the debt you are being harassed about—you still don’t deserve to be mistreated. In fact, if the abuse continues and you save the evidence, you can sue for damages and eliminate your debt! Even if it is not your debt and the calls are meant for someone else, you can still sue! Hard to believe? Maybe, but it's worth contacting me to find out if you have a claim. Get a free case evaluation now. If I take your case, you pay me no money up front and I will not get paid unless you get paid. You have nothing to lose!
What details does a debt collector have to provide about my debt?
You know you have fallen behind on paying some bills, but that does not mean you actually owe the debt a collector has contacted you about. And even if you do, there are federal and state laws governing when and how often the debt collector can call, what he can say to you, and what information he must provide to you about the debt. Because so many people are not aware of their rights when it comes to debt collection, creditors and debt collectors often engage in abusive and harassing behavior when contacting people about debts.
What a Debt Collector Must Tell You
When a debt collector calls, he will likely tell you that you have a debt that his agency has purchased and that you now owe his company the money. He may try to get you to pay over the phone to settle the matter quickly. However, he is required by law to provide you with certain details about the debt in writing within five days of the first contact. This is called a debt validation notice and must include the name of the original creditor, the amount owed, and information about how to proceed if you do not think you owe the money. If the debt collector cannot provide this information, you may have cause to dismiss the debt and recover damages for harassment.
Why You Should Always Ask For Debt Verification
Even if you think the debt is legitimate, you should request verification for the following reasons:
- To verify that the debt is actually yours
- To make sure the person calling you is authorized to collect the debt
- To confirm you have not already paid
- To force the debt collector to prove that he has the original documents
You are within your rights to request debt verification, but you must do so in writing. You do this by sending the debt collector a letter in which you dispute all or part of the debt and request the name of the original creditor. Our experienced consumer protection attorneys can help in the writing of your debt validation letter. Contact us online or call us directly at 855.982.2400. We are happy to help people protect their rights under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
I've got collection calls coming in for someone that's NOT ME - how do I make them STOP?
Federal Debt Collection laws protect you - whether you owe a debt, OR NOT!
It's true - it's like one of those weird nature facts like "Wild dolphins call each other by name." Wow. I can see that once you mention it.
You can make these stop completely (and perhaps get paid) in these: Three Easy Steps
How do I fix a billing error that won't seem to go away?!
Step 1: Put it down in writing with proof, 2: Send in a copy by FAX or mail, 3: If it's not totally fixed WITHIN 15 DAYS, you send that proof to me for a free case evaluation.
Here in California, Billing "Errors" (or whatever the company who is torturing you wants to call it) may subject that company to legal liability and entitle you to compensation if you can prove that you gave them notice (that's why you write it down and include the proof) and they don't fix it within 15 days.