How to Stop Annoying Debt Collectors From Calling!

Debt Collectors...They call and call and call!!! Is there anything you can do to STOP THE CALLS?


If you have ever missed or gotten behind on credit accounts, then most likely, before long, you started getting calls, and calls, and calls!!!

As if the financial stress wasn't enough, now you got some, well, I'll be nice, debt collector agent calling to demand payment or making threats of this or that.

GOOD NEWS!

For the sake of this article, I'm talking about unsecured accounts such as:

  • Credit cards
  • Store credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Pay-Day loans
  • Medical bills
  • Utility bills
  • Private student loans

As long as the account is with the original creditor (Visa, Master Charge, Discover, etc.), then they (the creditor) has the right to call you about your account.

Somewhere in the fine print of the application you signed, (and probably couldn't read) there was language that you agreed to that they could contact you by phone/mail about your account.

But, once that account is about (varies) 3-4 months delinquent, then the original creditor may decide to charge off, assign or even sell to a debt collector.

Once this happens, then the debt collectors starts with the letters and calls....lots of calls, many times a day....VERY ANNOYING!

But I said I had GOOD NEWS, and I do.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a lot of very good information about debt collectors and their practices. 

A debt collector must conduct their business practices according to the law found in the FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT or the FDCPA.

They (debt collectors) are prohibited from:

  • calling too early or late
  • calling many, many times a day
  • calling you at work (if your boss prohibits calls)
  • making threats of legal action (if they do not follow through or intend to)
  • using profane or threatening language ("Your going to go to jail!")
  • calling and revealing your situation with family or friends

So, what should you do if you have believe you have been harassed by a debt collector?

The best thing you can do is to file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office.  Most likely you can go online to do this.

If the Attorney General's office gets enough complaints, they will start legal action against the debt collector.

"But, how do I stop all those calls?"

Again, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says that a consumer can demand that a debt collector stop the calls by simply sending a written request (sometime they'll take a fax).

To make it easier for you, here's all the information you will need:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

One more thing....

Just because you have stopped the calls doesn't mean the debt collector is going to stop sending letters, reporting the "bad debt" on your credit report and possibly begin legal action to win a judgment.

If awarded a judgment, they may be able to get a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT or a BANK LEVY!

The best thing you can do is to negotiate with the debt collector for a reduced SETTLEMENT!

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

Dealing with debt collectors is not always easy or friendly:

  • They are professionals who specialize in getting you to pay as much as possible!
  • When you are "emotionally" involved, it is harder to negotiate.
  • With little experience, many people end up paying way to much.

Yes, you can put a stop to the collection calls, but you'll still need to deal with the debt.

COULD YOU USE A LITTLE HELP OR ADVICE?

FREE  Debt Elimination Summary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: fair debt collection practices act, debt settlement, debt, stop creditor calls, debt collector

What a Debt Collector Can and Cannot Do...Know Your Rights!

You do not have to put up with debt collection harassment, but you need to know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in order to put a stop to it!

Our nation's consumer protection agency is call the Federal Trade Commission or FTC.  This agency enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA.  The FDCPA was designed to put a stop to abusive and unlawful attempts by debt collectors to collect debt.

too many credit cards

Debt Collectors are strictly prohibited from using unfair or deceptive techniques in their debt collection activity.

Not all debts are covered by the FDCPA.  The act covers basically all debts, such as:

  • personal loans
  • credit cards
  • store cards
  • medical bills
  • student loans
  • mortgages
  • auto loans

The FDCPA does not include debts you may have incurred in order to operate a business.

So, what happens if you find yourself in a financial situation where you can no longer meet the terms of your loan or credit account?

Once your account has been charged off by the original creditor and placed with a collection agency, the telephone calls will start.  This is the most abused type of debt collection activity, but you have rights that you must not only be aware of, but take advantage of!

Unless you agree to it (and who would), a debt collector cannot call you before 8am or after 9pm.  They also are prohibited from calling many, many times during the day.  Many debt collection agencies use an automated dialer to make thousands of calls a day, hoping to catch someone.

Here is some good advice on how to deal with a debt collector's call:

If you have the address of the debt collector (from one of the many letters you have no doubt received by now), then don't answer.  Your caller ID should indicate an "unknown" number or a number that is certainly not one of your family or friends.

If you (or perhaps one of your family should answer by mistake), briefly tell the debt collector that you are working on the problem and will get back to them...then HANG UP!

REMEMBER...Debt Collectors are professionally trained to get you to agree to pay back your debt right away!  Trying to explain your circumstances hoping for some understanding and/or sympathy is usually a waste of your time.

If you don't have the address of the debt collector (I'll explain why in a minute), then ask for it from the debt collector or at least get the debt collector to identify the company.  Now, you can go on line to get the address...WHY?

Because the FDCPA specifies that once a debt collector has received a written demand to stop placing calls to you, they must stop!  They are allowed one more call to tell you they got your letter and will not call again or that they intend to take further legal action in an attempt to scare you into...yep...giving them money!!!

In most cases, the debt collection agency will honor your demand letter and stop calling you.  That doesn't mean that you are not still responsible for the debt, but at least they will stop call you.

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

What about calling you at work?

A debt collector is also prohibited from calling you at your place of employment if they are told orally or in writing that you are not allowed to receive calls at work.  Again, most of the time, they will honor your request.

What about calling your family or neighbors?

Yes, but only to find out a little information about you:

  • Do you still live at....
  • Is your phone number still....
  • They may ask about your place of employment as well.

But, they may not discuss your financial situation!

I'll discuss what you can do if they are violating the FDCPA in just a minute, but here are some other basic practices or techniques that are also prohibited by debt collectors:

They are prohibited from...

  • using threats of violence or harm (but, after a dozen years in dealing with debt collectors, I have never heard of this violation)
  • using obscene or profane language
  • making false statements, such as claiming to be an attorney or representing the government
  • making statements such as "you may go to jail" if you don't pay!

threatening to garnish your wages or seize your property if, in fact, they have not been awarded a judgment after several months of legal efforts.

threaten to take legal action if, again, they don't follow through

OK, so what can you do if you feel that a debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

First, contact your State's Attorney General's office to file a complaint.  Usually, the best way to do this is to go on line. 

For example, in Oregon, you can file a complaint at:

Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection

Next, you will want to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

FTC Complaint Assistant

Your state's attorney general's office as well as the Federal Trade Commission doesn't take abusive debt collection practices lightly!  In fact, you have a right to sue a debt collector in a state or federal court within one year of the violation.

If you plan to do so, you should consult an attorney.

Finally, dealing with debt collectors is no fun and is certainly not easy. But, knowing your rights can really help.

Need mor advice?  Let us help:

 

Photo Credit:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sovietmole/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: debt collection, fair debt collection practices act, fdcpa, debt, debt collection in oregon, credit card debt relief oregon, credit cards

Should You Be Afraid of Debt Collectors?

A recent newspaper article in Portland, OR from The Oregonian stated that as many as 33% of all consumers will be dealing with debt collectors!

Although dealing with a debt collector can be frustrating and annoying, there is really no reason to ever fear a debt collector.

Believe me, I certainly understand why most people who find themselves in a financial situation that has caused some or all of their accounts to be turned over to a debt collector are nervous.  The thought that you might lose your home, possessions and/or bank accounts would cause any sane person to be afraid.

fear of debt collectors


Well, the good news is that in most cases, that FEAR is not necessary!

In this blog, I am talking about dealing with unsecured debts (credit cards, store cards, medical bills, etc.) and not secured debts such as a home mortgage or auto loan.

So, here are a few things to remember and tips on how to deal with debt collectors:

It rarely does much good to talk with a debt collector on the phone.

Once your account is 60-90 days past due, you can expect a call from either the RECOVERY DEPARTMENT of the creditor or from a DEBT COLLECTION COMPANY.

While your account is still with the original creditor, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA laws that allow you to put a stop to collection calls do not apply...yet!

Most of the time, when the original creditor's agent calls, they are just trying to find out what your situation is and may offer a plan to help you get back on track.

BE VERY CAREFUL!!!  They may offer what is called a "HARDSHIP PLAN", whereby you agree to allow them to deduct a certain amount of money (usually less than the total amount your last statement DEMANDED) from your checking account for say, 6 months. 

At the end of the 6 months, they promise to "REVIEW" your case and get you started making regular payments again.  But usually, after you have paid the agreed upon amount for 6 months, your have barely made a dent in reducing your balance and are right back to where you started!

If you take the call from the original creditor, be very calm and simply say something like:

"I realize I've fallen behind on my bill and fully intend to get caught up soon. But, at this time, there is nothing I can do, so please stop calling me."

Yes, I know I just said that they have the legal right (at this point) to call, but they may honor your request and leave you alone for a month or so.


If the recovery department of the original creditor is unsuccessful in getting your to start making payments, the account most likely will be charged off and sold or transferred to a debt collector after about 120 days.

You most likely will get a letter from the debt collector and no doubt will start getting phone calls!

A Debt Collector's job is to get you to pay...period!  Although there are plenty of "decent" debt collectors who actually may show some empathy for you, there are many that are just the opposite.

These debt collectors will use all kinds of tactics to get you to pay up!  Although most debt collectors follow the laws and/or guidelines of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, there are always a few "bad apples".

Don't get into a dialog with a debt collector!

While I think it's OK to have one short conversation with the original creditor, it's usually a whole different story now that your account has been turned over to a debt collector!

If they have sent you a letter demanding payment, etc., get the address of the debt collector and write them a letter demanding that they cease calling you at home.

Here is a sample letter you can use:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

If the calls don't stop (it will take a week or so) then you can file a complaint with your state's attorney general's office.

Usually, the debt collector will stop calling as they can be fined very severely!

NOW WHAT?

After a reasonable period of time (varies with each debt collector), if the debt collector is unsuccessful in getting you to start paying , the original creditor may:

  • Recall the account and turn it over to another debt collector and the process will start again.  Yes, you will have to send another letter to the new debt collector to stop the calls!
  • Turn the account over to a Law Firm that only practices debt collection.

 

If your account is placed with a Law Firm that practices debt collection, you will get the same letters and calls, but now, you need to be careful.

If the Law Firm decides to FILE A CLAIM for the debt you owe on behalf of the original creditor or the debt collector, you will get a SUMMONS.

I've written several blog articles over the years on what to do if you receive a summons, but in short:

  • DON'T IGNORE THE SUMMONS
  • DON'T PANIC!

Most people think that a debt collector and/or debt collection law firm can just garnish your income, levy your bank account and/or put a levy on your home or other property.

While it's true that they can AFTER they are awarded a judgment, they cannot do anything until then.  That's why it is so important to take action if you receive a summons!

In most cases, you can prevent the CLAIM from moving on to a JUDGMENT by contacting the attorney's office and working something out.

Most "judgments" are awarded to the creditor/debt collector/plaintiff because the debtor didn't take any pro-active steps.

If you are employed and receive regular W-2 income, then you can't let

If you...

  • Are retired, with only Social Security and/or Retirement Income, or
  • Disabled and receiving Disability Income only, or
  • Are unemployed and receiving unemployment income, or
  • Receive child support or alimony payments, then...

These sources of income are exempt from garnishment. Notice, I didn't say exempt from state or federal taxes you may owe, but from garnishment for unsecured debts.

The best way to put an end with dealing with debt collectors is to NEGOTIATE A SETTLEMENT of your account. That is, if you have some funds available to make an offer of 40%-60% of the balance. 

If not, you can still usually negotiate a settlement by agreeing to make monthly payments rather than a lump sum payment, but you may have to pay a little larger settlement.

Click here for some very useful information on how to negotiate a settlement:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics

One final thought...

If your financial circumstances are such that you have no ability to offer a settlement, either in a lump sum or payments, then you may need to consult a bankruptcy attorney.

Bankruptcy is a way to help those who qualify to put and end to debt collectors and get a fresh start.

If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, we can help:



 


 

Photo credit: 

Kevin B 3

milwaukeemakerspace.org/2012/12/fear/

Tags: debt collection, fair debt collection practices act, credit card debt, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt, credit cards, Oregon, PORTLAND

Here's How to Put a Stop the Collection Calls

Calls from debt collectors can be very annoying. For some, the calls are so bothersome that phone numbers have to be changed or disconnected to stop debt collection calls.

When Can Debt Collectors Call

Don't Worry

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the Federal law that states what debt collectors can and can't do. For starters, they aren't to call you about a debt that you don't owe. When a debt collector first contacts you about a debt, you have the right to request them to verify the debt is yours. If the debt collector can't come back with proof that you owe the debt, they're not allowed to contact you anymore. DEBT VALIDATION

Even without sending a validation request, debt collectors have certain rules they must follow when it comes to contacting you over the phone. For example, they can't call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. your local time. They can't call you repeatedly, and they can't call you at anytime you've previously stated is inconvenient. For specific situations timing of debt collector calls check out.

Stop Debt Collection Calls

There's no law that says you have to communicate with a debt collector by phone. If you hang up on a debt collector there is nothing they can do about it. But, if the collector continues to call you repeatedly even after you have hung up on them, they are in violation of the FDCPA.

All you have to do to stop debt collectors from calling you is tell them that you prefer to communicate with them in writing. Written communication works in your favor because it gives you a record of everything that is said. If the debt collector violates the FDCPA, you have hard evidence that could lead to a lawsuit in your favor. Keep in mind that, by law, the debt collector does not have to honor this request.

The surest way to stop debt collectors from calling you is by sending what is known as a cease and desist letter. In the letter, state that the collector should cease and desist further communication with you. Note that the cease and desist letter only applies to debt collectors, not the original creditor.

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

Can Debt Collectors Contacting You About Someone Else's Debt?

People who've recently changed their phone numbers are often plagued with calls from collectors trying to reach that number's previous owner. You might have this problem even if you've had the same number for years. Unfortunately, telling the debt collector that they have the wrong number may not be enough to stop the calls for good.  If calls persist after the cease and desist letter, report the collector to your state Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission.

Debt collectors might also contact you trying to locate another person, like a friend or relative. Somehow in their background check, your contact information has been liked to the debtor. The law does allow debt collectors to contact a third-party to get a phone number, address, and employment information, but the collector can only contact a specific third-party once and they can't reveal any information about the debt. A debt collector is violating the law if they continue to contact you for contact information even after you've told them what you know.

What Happens After the Cease and Desist

Once the collection agency receives your cease and desist letter they can communicate with you once more, via mail, letting you know one of three things:

  • that further efforts to collect the debt are terminated,
  • that certain actions may be taken by the debt collector, or
  • that the debt collector is definitely going to take certain actions.

When you send the cease and desist letter to the debt collector, send it via certified mail with return receipt requested. This will provide proof that the letter was sent and received. If the debt collector communicates with you beyond the single instance allowed by law, this evidence will allow you to seek punitive action against the debt collector.

Summary:

Debt collectors earn their money from getting you to pay...period.  If you think they want to play fairly or show sympathy for your situation, well, as the saying goes...WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!!!

You do not have to put up with Debt Collector Abuse, so  take action.

Finally, get help!  You don't have to "go-it-alone"!

 

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/kitby/4883787012/

Tags: fair debt collection practices act, debt collection harassment, how to stop collection calls, dealing with debt collectors, debt, debt collection in oregon

Dealing With Debt, Part 2, Debt Settlement

If you cannot qualify for a Debt Management Program, then you should consider a Debt Settlement Program.

In my last blog, "Dealing With Debt, Part 1, Debt Management", I explained about how the traditional Credit Counseling Program or what we refer to today as a Debt Management Program works.

As with about anything in life, there are pros and cons with any program, so you want to make sure that if you are looking for answers concerning what is the best way to deal with debt, you look at all of your options before making a decision!

look at all of your options

 

When dealing with too much unsecured debt, you really only have a few options:

  • A Debt Management Program
  • A Debt Roll Up or Snowball Program
  • A Debt Settlement Program
  • Bankruptcy

 

What is a Debt Settlement Program?

When you accumulated too much debt unsecured debt and cannot keep up with the minimum payments due or cannot qualify for a Debt Management Program, then a Debt Settlement Progam may be your best option.

Most people who chose a Debt Settlement Program have had some, if not all of their accounts become very delinquent.  Once you miss 3 or 4 monthly payments, these accounts most likely will be charged off by the original creditor and placed with a collection agency.

Sometimes, the collection agency is actually an attorney or Law Office that only deals with debt collections. 

As you may know by now, once you miss a payment or two, the letters and calls start coming more frequently!  In fact, most consumers are taken advantage of by debt collectors because they do not know their rights.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are forbidden to:

  • Call you too many times in a day
  • Say things that are vulgar or might indicate they could take your belongings
  • Make statements or suggestions that you are going to be sued, if, in fact, they do not file a claim and start the legal process.
  • Call you at your place of employment.
  • Any many other acts that you need to know.

You can find some very helpful information called:

Fair Debt Collection Practice Act – Guide for Consumers

OK, so you've looked at your options and Debt Settlement is the way to go...

Although you can attempt to settle your debts on your own, not only does debt settlement takes a lot of time, but you are also going to be going up against trained debt collectors who:

  • Are trained professionals
  • Don't care about your financial circumstances
  • Don't want to hear your story about how you got into this financial trouble
  • Are usually paid based on the amount of money they can get you to pay!

A quality Debt Settlement Company will:

  • Take the  time to conduct a thorough interview with you (by phone or in their office) as to your financial circumstances.
  • Go over you debts and basic household budget to help determine what you can reasonably afford to contribute to the debt settlement program.
  • Not try to pressure you into "signing up" quickly, but be willing to not only answer all of your questions, but will also mail, fax or email you a summary of how the program could work for you.
  • Be registered (if required by law) in the state in which you reside.
  • Maintain a very high rating with the Better Business Bureau.

If it is determined that a Debt Settlement Program is your best option, then:

  • You will stop making payments to your creditors (if you haven't already)
  • You will make a payment/deposit to your Client Reserve Account through the Debt Settlement Company.  This account is with an Insured Bank located in the state of registration.
  • The Debt Settlement Company will contact each of your creditors/collectors in order to stop the collection calls and to begin to negotiate on your behalf.

By the way, you cannot stop the original creditor from calling you about a missed or unpaid account.  They have a right to do so.

But, you can certainly stop the collection calls from debt collectors!

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

Once your reserve account has sufficient funds, a settlement will be negotiated.  Sometimes this settlement is a lump sum for approximately 50% or less of the balance.  Sometimes this settlement can be paid out over a number of months.

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

Each settlement, and the subsequent reduction in principal of the settlement, depends on many factors, such as:

  • Your employment status (working, W-2 wages or self employed)
  • Retired
  • Disabled
  • On unemployment, etc.

After a settlement has been negotiated, a SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT is faxed, emailed, or mailed. 

If you are going to try and settle your debts on your own, DO NOT SEND OR AUTHORIZE ANY PAYMENT WITHOUT A WRITTEN SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT!

Once the settlement has been completed (according to the terms of the settlement agreement), a letter will be mailed out stating that this account has been:

  • Settled-as-agreed
  • Settle-for-less-than-the-full-balance, (and sometimes)
  • Paid as agreed or Paid in full

The Debt Collector or original creditor if you are dealing with them, should notify each the three top Credit Bureaus that your account has been closed and settled.

HOWEVER, it is a good idea to follow up by running a FREE CREDIT REPORT (after about 45-60 days) to make sure that this account is not showing a balance, etc.

Most Debt Settlement Programs run about 36 -48 months or maybe longer, depending on your financial circumstances.  Once each account has been settled, you're credit scores should start going up!

Debt Settlement is a noble way to do the best you can to repay debts that you owe instead of seeking bankruptcy protection. 

Bankruptcy, in my opinion, should be considered as your last and only option, and I will be blogging about that next time.

For more information about Debt Settlement, click below:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Photo credit to Betsssssy

Tags: fair debt collection practices act, debt settlement, Bankruptcy, debt collection in oregon, debt collector, debt relief in Portland Oregon, debt management, credit cards

Do I Have to Respond to a Summons?

If you have debts that are delinquent, you may get a summons.  Do you have to respond to a summons?

 

Fear

The simple answer is "no", but that doesn't mean you should ignore a summons!

If you have so much debt that you cannot keep up with the payments, at some point, some or all of these debts will become "past due", "delinquent", or "charged off" for non payment.

In some cases, the original creditor or the debt collector or debt buyer may decide to retain an attorney to file a claim against you.

Here's what usually happens:

When you miss a payment or two, you start to get the phone calls and letters.  This is the original creditor trying to get you to start making the payments again.  During the first 60-90 days, the account most likely stays with the original creditor as they continually try to get you to start making payments.

As annoying as the phone calls are, you cannot legally stop the calls as long as the account is still with the original creditor.  You can, however, choose to ignore the calls, but this is not your best tactic.

You can answer the phone and try to explain your situation, but this is usually a waste of time.  It would be better for you to write the original creditor and briefly explain your financial circumstances and that you fully intend to repay this debt, but cannot do anything at this time.

This may or may not buy you some time.  Most likely, the original creditor will offer you some kind of HARDSHIP PLAN, but BEWARE!  Most Hardship Plan offers only delay the inevitable...you will have to repay 100% of this debt plus interest, late fees, annual fees and possibly over-the-limit penalties!

If the original Creditor is unsuccessful in getting you to start paying, they may decide to place the account with a DEBT COLLECTOR.  Here where things are starting to get really serious.

At first, you'll receive some letters, telling you what you already know...

                                  THIS ACCOUNT IS PAST DUE!

It will explain that you must bring you account up to date or face serious consequences (or something like that).

Then, the phone calls start!  Although the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has helped stop many ruthless and harassing debt collectors, they are still out there!

According to the FDCPA, you have the legal right to make them stop calling you!

Click below:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

But now that the calls have stopped, the original creditor, the debt collector or debt purchaser may decide to take legal action.

A word about DEBT BUYERS:

When a debt goes unpaid for a long time and a debt collector (or several debt collectors) are unsuccessful collecting the debt, it normally will be charged off as "uncollectable".  There are thousands upon thousands of these debts out there and there is are companies who will buy large groups or lots of debt at pennies on the dollar, planning on getting paid on enough to make a profit.

So, if they decide to have a claim filed, they would retain an attorney (licensed in your state) to file a COMPLAINT in your county courthouse.

By-the-way...

It's not always logical when or why a debt collector or debt buyer decides to file a claim.

If you are retired, disabled, or unemployed, you are going to be exempt from wage or bank garnishment. 

Back to the process:

The court will prepare a SUMMONS, and it will SERVED or delivered to you.  This is usually done by a sheriff or company paid to serve the summons.  Some people think that they can avoid receiving the summons by not answering the door or by lying to the person or sheriff trying to serve the summons.

I don't advocate this tactic, as you could face legal charges for not telling the truth, and eventually, you will be served.  You may be able to "buy some time".

If you can come up with a lump sum of approximately 50%-75% of the amount of the claim, they may accept that as a settlement.  The amount they are willing to accept will depend on several factors, specifically your financial situation:

  • employed (W-2 or self employed)
  • unemployed
  • retired
  • disabled
  • buying or renting

If you are exempt from wage or bank levy, but are a home owner (or have significant equity in your home), you may want to get this account settled to avoid a lien being placed on your property.

If you do not have funds available to offer a lump sum settlement, in most cases, you will be able to arrange a repayment of the debt by making monthly payments.  Sometimes, this will be called a STIPULATED AGREEMENT before or after a judgment.  As long as you complete the terms of the agreement, no further legal action will happen.

On the other hand, if you start such an agreement and miss a payment, they may deem the agreement "VOID", and start the legal process again!

BOTTOM LINE...

It is not in your best interest to ignore a summons! 

In fact, if you are in a stressful financial situation, take action before your account(s) go this far!  Your chances of successful negotiation are much better if you can get something worked out BEFORE a judgment is awarded!

 


Photo credit: Kevin B 3



 

 

 

 

Kevin B 3

Tags: fair debt collection practices act, credit card debt, debt settlement, summons, how to prevent wage garnishment, exempt income

Don't Panic if You Receive a Summons!

If you are served with a summons for past due debts, DON'T PANIC!

You need to understand what a debt collector CAN and CANNOT DO!

fear

Make no mistake, it is a scary time when someone knocks on your door and says something like, "Are you....You've been served!"

Sometimes, the delivery person is a police officer and that even makes it worse!

Someone has said that FEAR is:

  • False
  • Evidence, that
  • Appears
  • Real

So true!  We often get "freaked-out" because we think something is what is not.

Let me try and help you get over the fear of receiving a summons!

I/we've been helping people with DEBT, basically UNSECURED DEBTS, for many years.

When you have too much debt to keep up with the payments due, they may be charged off by the original creditor or placed with a collection agency in an effort to collect on the delinquent debt.

If you've ever been in that situation, you know that you get letters and calls and calls and calls.  By the way...hears how to put a stop to collection calls:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

If the collector cannot get you to pay the debt, they may decide to FILE A COMPLAINT. This is a legal technique whereby an attorney, licensed in your state, is hired by the debt collector or creditor to file an official complaint with your county court.

Next, you will receive a SUMMONS.  And this is when it gets scary!

We're located in Portland, Oregon and in the County of Multnomah.  A client recently sent us a SUMMONS and this is what it said (you can understand why they were upset!):

"YOU ARE HEREBY required to appear and defend the complaint filed against you in the above-entitled action within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this summons to you.  In case of your failure to do so, for want thereof, Plaintiff will apply to court for the relief demanded in the complaint."

"You must "appear" in this case or the other side will win automatically.  To "appear" you must file with the court a legal paper called a "motion" or "answer".  The"motion" or "answer" must be given to the court clerk or administrator within 30 days along with the required filing fee.  It must be in the proper form and have proof of service on the Plaintiff's attorney or, if the Plaintiff does not have an attorney, proof of service on the Plaintiff.  If you have any questions, you should see an attorney immediately."

       WOW, NO WONDER PEOPLE GET SCARRED!!!

OK, let's calm down and look closely at the SUMMONS.

First, in the case of UNSECURED DEBTS (Credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, Store Cards, private student loans, etc.), the Plaintiff (this is the creditor or who you owe the money to) cannot:

  • Put you in jail
  • Take other belongings
  • Cause you any harm, etc.

In fact, there are limits and protection for consumers by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that you should be aware of.

Next, the SUMMONS seems to say that you are going to have to GO TO COURT!

NO IT DOESN'T!  (Remember, FEAR...False Evidence that Appears Real?)

If you don't believe you owe the DEBT=CLAIM, then you must file an "Answer", which not only costs (about $165 last I heard in Multnomah County) but it must be in the proper, legal format which may require an attorney to prepare...more costs!

BUT, since you owe the debt (not the time to talk about the outrageous fees and interest tacked on), then you won't be filing an ANSWER.

SO NOW WHAT???

You should contact the attorney for the Plaintiff (creditor) and try to work out a repayment plan.

If you are employed (receive W-2 income), then you are not going to have very much leverage at this point.  But, you should be able to negotiate a reduced settlement (if you have a large sum of funds to offer) or a repayment plan of the entire debt balance.

If the Plaintiff is awarded a judgment (which most likely they will win), then they can file a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT and your employer would have no choice but to deduct 25% of your net income (most states) and send it to the Plaintiff until the entire balance is paid!

Think about that for a minute.  Let's say that you usual bring home pay (after taxes are withheld) is $2,500/month.  At 25%, that's an additional $625 per month that would be deducted, leaving you with only $1875 to pay bills!  Ouch!

Remember when you ignored those letters and calls?  Well, this is one of the results that can happen.  It is always better to try and negotiate with the creditor or collection agency than let the account go to this.

If you are self employed, you may have a little more leverage in that your "salary" may be low enough (if you are using a good accountant) to be exempt from garnishment.  To see what this exemption amount is, check with your state's attorney general's website.

In Oregon, go to: State of Oregon Garnishment Forms.

If you are retired and are living solely on Retirement or Social Security, then those funds are protected from Garnishment or even a Bank Levy.

If you are SELF EMPLOYED or RETIRED, or receiving only DISABILITY INCOME, you should be able to negotiate a pretty decent settlement at 50% or less of the balance.

We've prepared a very good booklet that will explain how Debt Settlement can work:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics

 OK, I hope you are starting to understand that just because you receive a SUMMONS, you are still going to be OK, BUT YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION...AND I MEAN IMMEDIATELY!!!

If you are not sure you can deal with debt collectors or the attorney for the Plaintiff, we can help:

 

 

Photo credit:  Kevin B3 at www.milwaukieemakerspace.org/2012/fear/

 

 

 

 


 

Tags: fair debt collection practices act, credit card debt, debt settlement, debt collectors, debt negotiaion, debt relief in Portland Oregon, credit cards

Put a Stop to Debt Collection Calls!

Annoyed with debt collector calls? 

Here is how to Put a Stop to Debt Collection Calls

Anyone that has had financial troubles and fallen behind in there payments to creditors understands just how frustrating and annoying those calls from debt collectors can be.

Not only are they annoying, but embarrassing as well!

Who wants to hear, "Dad, some guy calling about your credit card bill!"

help-stop-debt-collector-callsDebt collectors are paid to get you to pay up.

They are (for the most part) trained professionals who will use every trick in the book to get you to pay.

Most abide by the law spelled out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but many do not.

First, it is important for you to know the basics of what a debt collector can and cannot do:

A debt collector cannot call you at all hours of the day.  They cannot call before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM.

They cannot call you at work if they are told by phone or in writing not to call you there!

A debt collector can call family or friends to inquire about your whereabouts, but the are prohibited from discussing your debts.

What debt collectors CAN'T do:

OK, so you want to put a STOP TO COLLECTION CALLS:

You will need to write a short, legible letter that demands that the debt collector stop calling you immediately.

Although you want to be authoritative, you don't want to be rude or use language you may regret latter.

Remember, most likely, you owe the debt and would like to SETTLE THE DEBT, one of these days.

Located in Portland, Oregon, we have been helping clients stop receiving debt collection calls for over 10 years.

To receive a copy of the letter we use, click below:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

Once you have the letter written, you should send it by CERTIFIED MAIL with a RETURN RECEIPT.

This way, you have proof that not only did you mail the letter, but they received it.

WHAT IF Debt Collectors KEEP CALLING????

If the calls don't stop, write down the date, time and try to get name of the person calling.

You will need this later to file a complaint.

You have the right to sue a debt collector in a state or federal court.  You can contact your state's attorney general's office to file a complaint. If successful, you may be awarded up to $1,000 per violation!

To file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, click here.

Each state has it's own site, and/or method to file a complaint.

For example, if you live in Oregon, click here to file a complaint.


That should do it, but if you would like more information about how to Stop Debt Collectors or would like to know how a debt settlement program could help you, click below:

FREE EBook Debt Settlement  Basics


Tags: debt collection, fair debt collection practices act, federal trade commission, debt settlement, how to stop collection calls, dealing with debt collectors, debt settlement in oregon, debt relief in Portland Oregon

Dirty Tricks of Debt Collectors

Here's some very helpful tips on how to stop the dirty tricks debt collectors use.

Dealing with debt collectors can be very frustrating, especially if you do not know what a debt collector can and cannot legally do!

The Federal Trade Commission acts to enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when debt collectors violate the law.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - Guide for Consumers, will help you understand your rights and help you deal with debt collectors.

One of the most annoying tactics used by debt collectors is to make numerous calls.  Many debt collectors use automated dialers that seem to work around the clock! 

Even if you are on the National Do Not Call List, a debt collector can legally call you as you have had a previous business agreement.

But, YOU CAN PUT A STOP TO DEBT COLLECTOR CALLS!

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

In some cases, a faxed letter will work, but to be sure, writing and sending by registered mail is much more effective!

Although a debt collector can call your family, friends and in some cases a neighbor, THEY CANNOT DISCUSS YOUR DEBT.  A debt collector can only call them to see if they can find our your phone number or where you live.

A debt collector cannot call you at work if your employer doesn't allow you to receive calls at work.  Many times you can verbally demand that the debt collector stop calling your place of employment and that will do it.  If not, write a letter.

A debt collector cannot make false statements, use obscene language, make threats of violence on the phone or in writing!

Although most debt collectors act in a semi-professional manner, there are some that will try any and all dirty tricks in order to collect their commission if they get you to pay up!

One of the most used dirty tricks that a debt collector uses is sending a "legal looking letter" that seems to indicate that you are being sued!

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act clearly prohibits a debt collector, and even debt collectors that are attorneys, from threatening to take legal action if in fact they do not intend to.

For example, a debt collector will send a letter that says something like:

"At this time, this office has not taken any legal action, but...." or...

"If you do not contact this office within 20 days from the date it was mailed, this account will be turned over to our legal department for review."

If you received (or have received) a letter like that, then you know it is scarry!

Remember, a debt collector cannot take "legal action" until they have had an attorney, licensed in your state, prepare and submit a "claim" to your county courthouse.

Then, a SUMMONS is prepared and delivered to you.

If you do not act on the summons, then they would most likely be awarded a DEFAULT JUDGMENT.

After the judgment has been awarded, they can now take legal action such as:

  • Wage Garnishment
  • Bank Levy
  • Place a lien on your home

The point is that just because a debt collector's letter sounds like they have taken legal action, doesn't necessarily mean that they have.

Finally, a debt collector usually has the ability to accept a lesser amount than the full amount that is due.  This is called a DEBT SETTLEMENT.

Debt collectors are paid to collect as much money from you as possible!  They may tell you that their client (the original creditor) will not accept a reduction of the balance or may say that they will only accept a very small reduction.

A consumer that has not had the experience of dealing with professional debt collectors can be intimidated and may pay much more than is necessary to settle the debt.

We have helped hundreds of clients settle debts at 50% or below for many years.

Click here for ACTUAL SETTLEMENT EXAMPLES.

Don't fall for the dirty tricks of debt collectors!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: debt collection, fair debt collection practices act, federal trade commission, debt settlement, debt settlement in Texas, debt settlement in oregon, debt relief in Portland Oregon, debt collector tricks

How to Stop Debt Collectors with Debt Validation

stop debt collectors with debt validationYour getting calls from a debt collector, but you do not believe you owe the debt. 

Learn how to stop debt collectors with debt validation.

First, you need to understand a little about debt collection and the process a creditor may use (and many time abuses) to collect that debt.

You have a credit card with a balance of $5000, but you have been unable to pay the minimum payments because you lost your job or have some other financial hardship.

  • The creditor  sends your account to their internal collections or recovery department.
  • You start getting calls and letters trying to get you to pay up!
  • If they are unsuccessful, they will most likely “assign” or “sell” the debt to a collection agency.
  • Now the collection agency starts to call and call and call (HOW TO STOP COLLECTION CALLS) and send letters demanding immediate payment.

Since you know that you owe the debt, this is not the time to use DEBT VALIDATION in order to stop the collection efforts.

You only have a few options at this point:

But, for the purpose of this article, let’s say that you believe one or more of the following:

  • Do not believe that you owe the debt the debt collector claims.
  • Believe the statue of limitations has run out on this debt
  • Not sure if you owe the debt and want to make sure it is valid
  • Think you paid this debt off a long time ago and don’t owe anything now
  • Ran a credit report and saw this debt listed and you think it should not be as you paid it in a settlement.

Here’s what you can do to Validate your Debt:

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) gives us the legal authority to request a validation of a debt claimed by a collection agency.

Send a certified letter (so you have proof of receipt) demanding validation of the debt to the collection agency within in 30 days of receiving the letter from the collector.

Sample Letter:

Reference your name, address, etc. and the name of the collection agency, address, etc. at the top.

Reference your account and account number.  If the collection agency has assigned as special account number, reference that as well.

 

To whom it may concern:

I received a letter dated (date on the letter) from you demanding payment of the above debt.

I do not believe I owe this debt and pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, 15 USC 169g Sec. 809 (b), I am requesting a validation of this debt.

Please provide the following:

  • Produce copies of any papers that show that I agreed to pay what you say I owe as well as a copy of my signature and date on those documents.
  •  Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if this applies to this alleged debt.
  •  Provide proof that your agency is registered in my state.

If you can provide the above documentation, I will need at least 30 days to determine if this information is correct and again, according to the FDCPA, all collection activity must cease.

Looking forward to clearing this matter,

Your signature

Print your name

Date

 

There are several other demands that can be made, but at this time, your goal is to verify the debt.  If you do not get a receipt of delivery of your registered letter, call the collection agency to verify the address and send again.

  • It will most likely take the collection agency 30 days or so to get back to you.
  • If they do not get back to you, then this most likely will be the end of it.
  • You should wait a couple of months and then check your credit report to see if this debt is listed (or still listed).

If the calls and letters have stopped and it is still listed, you can request the credit bureaus to remove the listing by providing copies of your letters, no response, etc.

I’ll write more about the debt validation process and more options in later blogs, but in the meantime, if you need help, let us know.  (1-877-492-4109)

 
 

Tags: debt collection, fair debt collection practices act, fdcpa, debt settlement, debt validation