Do Our Materials Work against Original Creditors

Do Your Materials Work for Cases against Original Creditors?

Yes. When I represented clients in these cases, there used to be a more significant difference between original creditors and junk debt buyers. We’ve written a lot about the differences between original creditors and debt buyers. They boil down into two things: you are more likely to have a counterclaim against a “debt collector” (which all debt buyers used to be considered); and debt buyers are less likely to have the documents they need to beat you. These differences are still there, but they are less important now than they used to be.

We will discuss both defense and possible counterclaims.

Defense

The main reason our materials work against both original creditors and others is practical. That is, it is because of the way law is actually practiced and the way people dispose of lawsuits. As we have often pointed out, parties settle cases only because they think a particular settlement offer is the best overall result they can obtain. It has nothing to do with what might be good, or nice, or anything else, for the other side. As a practical matter, you look for what is best for you and don’t try to help the other side, right?

Debt lawyers consider three things in this analysis: the risk of losing, the price of winning, and the chance of collection. These three things are very different.

Risk of Losing

The risk of losing is the chance that you will lose. It’s obviously never quite zero, but the people suing you pretty much ignore this risk – they think they will win, and the few times they don’t, don’t hurt. At the beginning of a lawsuit, therefore, this risk might as well be zero in the minds of the debt collectors. Our materials are designed to help you see whether they have any weaknesses, and if so, to build on them to create doubt in their minds. For pro se defendants, that’s pretty much all you will ever accomplish.

Price of Winning

The price of winning is very different. That is MUCH more of a consideration for the people suing you. Given (they think) that they will win, what will it cost to get the thing to trial and get the judgment? At the beginning of the case, the people suing you also ignore this issue because most people don’t put up much or any fight. The debt collectors expect their judgment easily and quickly – probably by default without any work at all.

And they get it most of the time. Our materials help you change their perception of this factor. Everything you do will cost them money, and the more you have done, the more they expect you to do. In other words, as you defend, the pile of costs grows, and the pile of expected costs grows even more. Whether they are debt buyers or original creditors, this radically changes the equation in their heads. It raises the likelihood that they will lose money whether they win the case or not.  Frankly, this is why most of them settle for a reasonable amount.

Chance of Collection

The other factor is the chance of collection: given that they will win, can they get money from you. Debt collectors and original creditors both understand that most people want to pay their bills, and the reason some don’t is that they have money problems. They know they can’t get money from you if you don’t have it, and they think you probably don’t have it.

This factor is very much a part of their thinking at all stages of the case, and it’s why most debt collectors will probably give you a discount on the case before you do anything – if you ask. It won’t be much of a discount, but it will be more if you offer a lump sum (eliminating the risk of collecting the rest) than if you offer payments. Does that make sense?

Factors Work Together

Notice how these factors work together. If you don’t give the other side information about your assets, and you do conduct discovery, you (slightly, in their minds) increase their chances of losing and drastically increase the costs of suit. You also delay the judgment they had expected to get quickly – and that reduces their chances of collection if they win.

The two most important factors, cost and delay, are the same for original creditors and debt collectors. Risk of losing goes up more for debt collectors than original creditors, but this factor is never important for either debt collectors or original creditors.

Thus our materials help you drive the value of the case down in the same way for both groups. If the other side regards your case as less valuable, it is more likely to offer you an actually good settlement, or to walk away from the litigation eventually. But what if it doesn’t? How do our materials work then?

Remember that law is a contest with very specific rules. It has always been our belief that either debt collectors or original creditors COULD win their case against you. To do so, however, they have to get the stuff they need and follow through with it, and these are expensive to do.

When we started Your Legal Leg Up, we knew that debt collectors almost never had what they needed to win if the case went to trial, and we were satisfied that they could not get it in a cost-effective and timely way. But we believed original creditors did have the necessary evidence or could easily get it. We have discovered that this is not true.

We are unaware of any reason why this is so. From our perspective, it would seem to be a simple process to retain the necessary records and do what is necessary to “authenticate” them as evidence (make them admissible in court). Nevertheless it is an observable fact that they often do not obtain or use appropriate evidence, and therefore there must be some reason for it. Perhaps it is the same for original creditors as it is for debt collectors – either they don’t think it’s worth it given the collection risk, or they are set up in a way where getting the information would clog up their systems and increase costs in general. In any event, you can find out if they have the evidence and the will to use them correctly by doing only one thing: fighting their case and conducting discovery. We believe there’s a good chance you will win if you do this.

Counterclaims

The other side of debt defense is using a counterclaim to take control of the lawsuit. We do still regard this as an important thing, if you can do it. That’s because if you can hold the debt collector in the suit with a counterclaim, you can make them dismiss the case “with prejudice,” which prevents anyone else from suing you on the debt. It will also help you repair your credit if you destroy the claim against you.

You will probably never have a good counterclaim against an original creditor, whereas you might get one against a debt collector. Some claims do exist – notably defamation or, for extreme acts, something called the “tort of outrageous infliction of emotional distress,” but the courts have historically been amazingly tolerant of original creditors. Much less so of debt collectors.

But again, as a practical matter, these things have turned out to be less important than they might have been. If you win the suit against another party (without prejudice), they are unlikely ever to sue you again even if they could. And if they sell the debt, the person buying the claim would have little chance against you in court. It also appears to be true that after dropping a suit against you the other side would have less energy and desire to prevent you from credit repair. It isn’t that they like you or couldn’t make trouble, it’s just that they have no financial interest in doing so. This appears to cause a lot of them to take no steps to prevent your efforts to remove their credit references.

Most people being sued by debt collectors just want the suit to go away and are not interested in trying to make the other side pay. This reduces the importance of the other side’s status as debt collector or not.

Conclusion

Therefore all things considered, our materials are about equally effective against debt collectors and original creditors. If the matter goes all the way to trial, you might have a somewhat larger chance of losing to an original creditor, but fighting intelligently will give you your best chance of preventing that from happening. The actual court processes are the same in either case, so you will be prepared to fight.

Stating Attorney Fees in Petition – Probably FDCPA Violation

It used to be common for debt collectors to name a specific amount of attorney’s fees in their Petition when suing on a debt. In other words, there will be an amount stated (specified) as reasonable attorney’s fees and sought as part of the debt in the “wherefore” clause of the Petition. The question is, does this violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)? The answer seems to be “yes” if the petition sues for a specific amount for attorney’s fees. If the company represents that you agreed to any specific amount of fees it is probably a violation of the FDCPA if the contract on which they’re suing provides for “reasonable attorney’s fees.”

That’s because you theoretically agreed to “reasonable” fees (as eventually determined by the court) rather than some liquidated amount.

As a result of some of the “blowback” in the form of counterclaims, many lawsuits never ask for attorney’s fees at all. But if yours does, and they ask for a specific amount, it could violate the FDCPA. Of note is how stringently the courts sometimes read the FDCPA in favor of consumers.

Common in Contracts

Many credit agreements include a section allowing the creditor to collect its “reasonable attorney’s fees” in the event of a default, and on the face of it this is perfectly reasonable. If a consumer fails to make payments, someone is going to have to pay an attorney – the reasonable fees section puts that burden on the person allegedly causing the problems. Like most laws, it’s tough on people without much money, but if someone has to pay (and someone always has to pay the lawyers), then it makes sense that the person breaking the agreement should do it. Or at least that is one reasonable type of agreement.

How it Shows up in the Petition

The way this often plays out, though, is that, after default and sale of the debt (obviously, the right to collect is what is being sold) to a debt collector, the debt collector will often bring suit for a specific amount. The petition will allege the right to attorney’s fees and then, in the “wherefore clause” will state something like this:

Wherefore, plaintiff requests $1,000 as the principle sum owed, plus interest at a rate of 29% from January 3, 2007 ($775 as of the date of filing), plus $450 reasonable attorney fees, plus costs and interest dating from the date of judgment.

I am using round numbers to suggest an attorney’s fee of 25% of the amount sought, and that is not an unusual amount sought as attorney’s fees.

The debt collector will often back up this request for fees with an affidavit stating that the amount named was “its attorney’s fees expended” or simply that the amount is for “fees as provided by contract,” or the like.

Violation of the FDCPA

This language violates the FDCPA because it wrongly suggests that the consumer agreed to a specific amount as an attorney’s fee – and that almost never happens (in the case we’re looking at, the right was to “reasonable attorney’s fees”). Where the right is to “reasonable attorney’s fees,” a debt collector violates the FDCPA by liquidating that amount (turning it into a specific dollar amount) and seeking that amount as if that was what had been agreed. The case you will want to use and to know if you have this situation is Stolicker v. Muller, Case No. cv-00733-RHB Document 61, Filed 09/09/2005, Bell, J, U.S.D.C. W.MI)(granting summary judgment to the consumers in a class action lawsuit on this issue). Note that the court found that seeking attorney’s fees in this way – by including a liquidated amount in the wherefore clause “altered the contract she signed with [the original creditor]… and violated the FDCPA. It specifically violated Section 1692e(2)(A),(B) (a false representation of the character or amount of a debt or the false representation of the …compensation which may be lawfully received); 1692e(10) (using a false representation to collect or attempt to collect a debt) and 1692f(1) (collecting any amount unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.”

They Laughed at Me but Then

The Debt Collectors Laughed at Me

When I Said “Here!” in Court

But When I Gave Them My Answer …

It looked like a typical day at court – – the debt collection lawyers were circling the table in front of the judge like vultures flying around some unfortunate animal on its last legs. There must have been ten –maybe fifteen—of them, and each time the judge called out a defendant’s name – – “Smith!… Jones!… Williams!… Thompson!…”- – there was silence, and then one of the lawyers would say in a bored voice, “Call for default.” And the judge said, “Default.”

– – Just like that, the debt collectors had their judgments, and as soon as that court session was over, they were going down to start the garnishment process. Start taking some poor guy’s paycheck.

The judge must have given the debt collectors fifty defaults before they reached my name, and it looked like there were more than a hundred more to go after me.

“Westmore!” the judge called out.

“Here!” I said.

In the shocked silence that followed I heard someone laugh. And I could see people nudging each other with their elbows. “What’s he doing?” one woman whispered, just loud enough for me to hear. I heard someone snicker. “Just a regular guy,” someone else said. “They’ll eat his lunch!” The debt collection lawyers smirked among themselves. That’s what they thought, too. No one EVER fights back.

Then I handed the Court My Answer

I walked up to the court clerk and handed her my Answer to the Petition.

It looked good.

Sharp and professional.

And it had a counterclaim. She raised her eyebrow with a new respect as she took the document and entered it onto the record. The vultures got strangely quiet and looked away when I dropped off a copy of my Answer and Counterclaim with the debt collection lawyer (I’ll call him “Mr. Nice Guy”) who had raised his hand on my way back to my seat.

The people who had been laughing at me could feel the change that had come over the court room. They got quiet, and I could sense their new respect.

They smiled and moved over to make room for me when I wanted to sit back down. Mr. Nice Guy was still smirking when he took the documents I handed him, but the smile started to fade when he noticed the counterclaim. And it was ancient history by the time he noticed I’d attached interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for documents to my Answer and Counterclaim.

He knew he was in for a fight. He knew it was going to cost him. He knew he was going to lose money if he kept after me. And he knew he might lose the case. He had come expecting a patsy—all those vultures had, you could see that just by looking at their smooth, scornful faces. I doubt if a single one of those lawyers ever did a day’s worth of real work in their lives!

Well, he’d run into a buzz saw this time.

A Complete Success!

Two days later I received a letter that said:

Dear Mr. James Westmore, My client has agreed to offer to settle our cases against each other as a mutual dismissal with prejudice. If that is acceptable to you, please sign the attached stipulation for dismissal of the lawsuits the parties have against each other and return them to me for filing.

Sincerely,
Mr. Nice Guy

I decided to let the debt collector go. I could have said “no” and tried to make him pay me something to get out of it (I think I had him cold), but… who wants to spend the rest of his life in court if you don’t have to?

It was as easy as that, although I know it isn’t always that easy – not by a long shot. Still, when you start fighting everything is leaning your way. It’s just that no one knows it.

I suddenly had a whole new life in front of me. So I made a quick call to the lawyer and said his offer was acceptable to me…if they would cancel the debt I supposedly owed and revoke any damage they had done to my credit report.

After a pause, Mr. Nice Guy gave in. So I wrote that right into the stipulation of dismissal, signed and sent it back to “Mr. Nice Guy & Associates.”

It was over. Just like that, a $7,000 credit card bill that debt collectors had harassed me about for three years was gone. And all the reports they had made to the credit agencies were gone with them.

How I Learned to Protect Myself in Court

Just by chance, I bumped into one of the “bystanders” who had seen me say “Here!” on that fateful day in court. He wanted to know how it had turned out for me.

When I told him, he asked me if I was a lawyer or “knew” somebody!

He was shocked when I told him that the only thing I knew about the law was stuff I had learned from YourLegalLegUp – a business that gives regular people everything they need to defeat the debt collectors. I told him how I’d learned all about the debt collectors and how they usually didn’t have what they needed to win their lawsuits. I told him I’d even gotten the forms I needed, too – “just a few easy changes was all I needed to make!”

“Wow,” he said. “It cost me over $1500 to hire a lawyer. And he didn’t even get my credit report changed!”

I was almost embarrassed to say how little it cost me to defend myself.

Look in the Mirror – What Do You See?

These days, when I look in a mirror I see a winner looking back. You won’t believe how much that is worth.

Before the debt collector sued me, back when they were just calling me every day, I got so that I hated to hear the phone ring. To tell the truth, there were many times I just couldn’t answer the phone at all. If an old high school friend tried to reach me, and I didn’t recognize his phone number, well, that was too bad. I missed the call. I wouldn’t answer the doorbell, either, unless I was expecting someone.

It’s hard to be a good friend or neighbor if you dread answering the phone, you know? It’s also hard to be a good neighbor if you’re afraid to answer the door when the doorbell rings or walk outside on the porch on a nice night when other people are out there.

And after a while it can be hard to look yourself in the mirror.

That’s all changed for me now, though. Now I like what I see, and you can too.

Why’d I Do It?

I won’t kid you – – it was scary to stand up and say “Here!” that first time. It was a little embarrassing to have all those people looking at me – – even though I’d never met them before and didn’t expect to meet them again. So why would I care what they thought? I cared because I’m like most people. We do care. I didn’t want to be the center of attention and didn’t want to be laughed at or pitied or scorned by strangers. That’s human nature.

I did it, though, because I was fed up. I was sick and tired of those debt collectors and their nasty voices. Sick of their contemptuous looks. Tired of being bullied and threatened by some anonymous punk on the phone. Plus I didn’t have the money to hire a lawyer –or to lose the case, either.

And I was fed up with feeling hopeless and pushed around.

It Changed My Life

And now that I’ve done it, it’s changed my point of view completely. The whole world looks and feels different to me in ways I never would have believed. I look in the mirror and like what I see again because I know I’m the guy – – yeah, that guy right there in the mirror!- – that’s the only one who stood up in court and said “Here!” that day.

I’m the one who fought back.

And I’m the one who won’t have to hear from the debt collectors any more or try to scrounge every cent I possibly can to keep the wolves away from the door. That’s me! It feels great to know I was brave enough to do what it took. No one will ever take that feeling away from me again.

To tell you the truth, the whole thing was absurdly easy. (The work was all in my head.) I spent a few hours reading the Manual, a few hours watching videos, and an hour or two putting together the documents I gave the court. The lawsuit was for about $7,000, so I figure I “made” about $1,000 per hour defending myself. It’s better than what I usually get at my job, let me tell you!

Other people sometimes have to do much more, but once you start fighting things should go your way. That’s because they really usually don’t have what they need and everything you do makes them spend $200 per hour fighting you. That’s money they know they might never get back even if they win because they don’t know if they’ll ever be able to collect it. It’s sweet.

I like what I see when I look in the mirror now, and I feel good about answering the phone or the door.

It’s the little things in life that are so big, isn’t it? Now I’m a good friend and neighbor again. I hold my head up when I’m out in public. Little things that are so huge.

I’m a new man!

My wife has certainly noticed the difference. Not only do we both have a sense of security we’d been missing for so long, but she also says she’d about lost the man she fell in love with. And she lets me know she’s glad I’m back every night! It’s like a second honeymoon.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Defend Yourself from the Debt Collectors

– Protect What’s Yours

You too can defend yourself from the debt collectors. You can have the good feelings “Jim Westmore” has. The above is a fictitious letter, but it’s drawn from the things real people have written to me many times. The results are not fictional.

Let me share just a few of the things some real people have said in their own words –and I’ve never paid, or even asked, for any of these testimonials. Notice the confidence and joy in every word they say.

Thanks for your work, Kenneth, I believe you have done a great job creating yourlegallegup.com. It helps in many ways, not only I fought against unfair debt collectors, but also I was educating myself.

I went through your work and crafted it to fit my case circumstances. Your “legal bundle” gave me ideas and the direction I should follow and, together with research skills, it made great power in defending the case.

One more thing. I’ve got the letter from the lawyers last night. The letter is addressed to the court and it says it is plaintiff’s “voluntary dismissal…”

Yes, it works. Yes, it wins. I appreciate you sharing your great knowledge.

Thanks, Andrew, Georgia

Hi Ken,

You have GREAT videos!! There’s something about seeing the videos and hearing your voice that makes the material all the more easy to absorb!
Thanks again for your continued support and help!! 🙂 Christine, Michigan

Ken, Just a quick email to say THANK YOU for your well-written manual! I was scared to death when I got a summons and complaint served on me by a debt collection attorney. I did exactly what you said, though, and basically let them know I wasn’t going away….and that was pretty much it. The attorney folded like a cheap suit, and I have to say it almost felt better than sex!

Thanks again,

Gary, Ohio

I settled and it was a victory on my terms! Thank you for the manual and working with me thru my emotions and getting me to the end….I waited to respond to until I saw for myself….It works to fightback! THANK YOU …THANK YOU…Ken.

I saved several thousand dollars….money well spent on the manual….

Olivia, California

Again Thank you very much for all your great advice-hints. I wont keep messaging you because I know you have a life over there too! But again Thank you so very much. If you make it out to Seattle let me know. Star bucks is definitely on me as well as dinner.

And I’m serious.

Kevin, Seattle

Today I received in the mail an offer “Stipulation For Dismissal With Prejudice”,which basically states the Plaintiff will dismiss their Complaint if I dismiss my counterclaim.

Its a done deal. Over five thousand dollars just like that!

Your litigation materials were clear, vital and necessary tools for me to win. All the examples,logic and powerful arguments presented in your materials helped me beyond belief! I am eternally grateful,and right now quite ecstatic!

Your materials are simply the best and finest of its type anywhere for pro se defendants facing debt lawsuits!

Thanks Ken,

Frank, Arizona

The great thing about your materials is that they take away the fear of going to court. I can never thank you enough for that!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Barbara, Maine

The Secret of Their Success

As anybody who knows me or has visited our site (Your Legal Leg Up) can see, we have devoted a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to helping ordinary people stand up to the debt collectors. As a former attorney who represented hundreds of people being sued by debt collectors, I know what it’s like to be harassed and sued, and I know what it takes to fight back. We have written dozens of articles, several full length books, and created over a hundred videos on defending yourself from debt collectors.

What makes it work, though, is actually very simple. Here’s the “secret.”

Debt collectors usually don’t have what they need to win a lawsuit from you when they file suit against you… And they usually can’t get what they need without spending more than the lawsuit is worth… if you fight back with knowledge and determination.

It isn’t hard! The main battle is in your head. Once you get used to the idea of speaking to the lawyers and the judge, once you see that they’re just people who don’t usually have to work very hard and who really don’t like to work hard, you’ll have all the advantages in your case.

The debt collectors win about 80 to 90 percent of their cases without a fight. If you convince them that you know how to fight and that you will fight – – to the bitter end if need be – – they’d rather leave you alone. That’s the secret.

Our materials tell you what you need to know so that you can fight back. And we’re there to encourage you to do it when things seem a little scary so that you will fight back.

You’ll Deserve the Credit!

We offer our help. Our materials will inform you and give you the tools… but in the end the victory is yours. And you will deserve the pride you feel when you look in the mirror. And the peace of mind that comes from knowing that debt collectors will never push you around again. Because you are part of that very exclusive club of people who will actually stand up and fight.

You’ll deserve all the credit and peace of mind you earn for yourself.

And you will see the world differently – we guarantee it.

Our Materials are Guaranteed

If you’re being sued (or being pursued) by a debt collector and get our materials… we like your chances of winning –they’re great!– but we can’t guarantee you will win or that they’ll take the settlement you offer. Sometimes the debt collectors can get what they need and are willing to spend what it takes to get you even though it means they will lose money. That’s just life. What we can and do guarantee, though, is that you will be satisfied with the materials and the service you get, or you can have your money back. We wouldn’t want it. We also guarantee that if you decide to settle your case (instead of going all the way to trial), you will save at least twice what the materials cost you. Probably much much more.

One customer decided to pay the debt collector $500 rather than fight to the very end. But he had been sued for $12,000. And he made them clear his credit report.

We thought he would win the case –maybe make them pay him something—but he decided he had better things to do. If you ever feel the same way—that you’ll do better in your life if you settle for a small fraction of what they claim you owe—you’ll get a settlement offer that saves you at least twice what you paid for the materialsor you get your money back from us.

We’ll take that risk. Gladly. That way you don’t risk anything on the materials.

Now you just need to move quickly. And that’s mainly because if they’re suing you – or about to sue you – you don’t have time to waste.

 

Copy of the FDCPA

If you have any kind of debt problems or just want to understand the laws that apply to debt collection, you should start with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

For most purposes, who the FDCPA covers and what it requires and allows are easily found just by googling the act. But sometimes you need the actual statute. And here it is free to download fdcpatext.

Cease-Communication Letters

Debt collectors often try to wear down the resistance of consumers by repeatedly calling and harassing them. If this is happening, you can easily make it stop. Here’s how.

Debt Collection Strategies

Debt collection is a huge and growing industry in the United States, and collectors are notorious for some of the strategies they use to force and intimidate consumers into payment.

They’re Trying to Harass You

Debt collectors know that they people they are calling do not have much money-their purpose is to move themselves to the head of the line. The way they do this is by attempting to inflict more pain or annoyance on the consumer than other bill collectors. In other words, debt collectors know you only have so much money to pay your bills – they’re competing with each other. The company that harasses you the most “wins.” Sometimes individual debt collectors claim not to engage in abusive behavior, but rather to be the victims of it. I leave the reader to decide how much sympathy these debt collectors deserve, but my point is that, in general, the debt collectors seek emotional engagement – and, also in general – the best thing you can do is avoid it.

You Can Make them Stop Bugging You

The collectors are not concerned with your priorities or well-being, but you should be, and it is hard to keep a clear head amidst all the noise and all the people trying to use you. Luckily the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) offers some help. Under the FDCPA, 15 U.S. Code Section 1692(c)c, “if a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer wishes [it] to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further…with respect to such debt.”

However, the collector may inform the consumer that it’s efforts are being terminated, or notify the consumer that it “may or will invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked” (i.e., suing or reporting to the credit agencies). Many people fear that by invoking this rule they will cause the debt collectors to sue them – but this fear is probably misplaced (it is according to my experience). The debt collectors have their own guidelines based on what they expect to collect. If anything, writing a cease communication letter may reduce your chance of being sued because it keeps the debt collector from gathering more information about you.

What to Do to Make Debt Collectors Stop Harassing You

Crucially, if the notification is made by U.S. mail, the communication is complete “upon receipt.” In other words, to make sure the debt collector is forced to cease communications, it makes sense (although it is not required by the law) to send the letter by certified mail. That way you have proof that the debt collector received the letter. Any further communication would be in violation of the FDCPA.

When the phones stop ringing off the hook, you will be freer to make decisions according to your own best interests and priorities.

For More Help

Our Debt Collections Pack can give you a sample cease-communications letter and the guidance you need to keep the debt collectors off your back.

what to do when sued for debt

If you’re being sued for debt by debt collectors – and even by original creditors – there are some basic things you need to know. This video tells you how to start defending yourself and why you have such a good chance to win if you do.


There is an epidemic of debt litigation. Partly this is because debt of all kinds is at historic levels – there’s never been so much consumer, auto, credit and other debt around. And there’s never been so much of that debt that isn’t being paid. To complicate this picture and make it even worse, identity theft (and resulting unpaid purchases and bills for people whose identity has been stolen) is also at historic levels – and getting worse.

In short, things are bad and getting worse for a lot of people.

If you get sued, you should not panic. One good thing to come out of the debt epidemic is that the debt collectors use factory-type collection methods. If you know what you’re doing, your chance of successfully defending yourself – whether or not you ever actually owed anybody on the debt – are extremely good. That’s because the debt collectors find it more profitable to go after people who don’t fight back. Fight back, and you’re making yourself much less attractive as a defendant – and making it much more likely they’ll drop the suit. Plus, you have a very good chance of winning even if they don’t drop the suit.

Our company exists to help people fight back intelligently. That way, you don’t just hand the debt collectors and easy win, and they’ll probably move on. Or you’ll win.

About the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the centerpiece of legal protections for debtors against debt collectors. The law was passed in its essential form in 1977, and its goal was to protect debtors against the abuses of debt collectors. This article discusses what makes this law great, and some of its limitations.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)  was enacted to put an end to some of the worst practices of the debt collection industry. It’s been a very good law, but the debt collectors are still doing many of the things the law was designed to present. You may be able to sue them or prevent them from suing you..

The Debt Collection Industry

Before the act, the debt collection industry was routinely engaging in the most abusive sorts of behavior imaginable, from calling debtors at all hours of the day or night and subjecting them to streams of cursing and name-calling, to discussing their debt with children, neighbors, and employers. Debt collectors frequently misrepresented themselves as attorneys and often threatened legal action which they were powerless to initiate. And they often attempted to, and did, collect debts that either never existed or were long unenforceable because of statutes of limitation or bankruptcy.
Whatever the staid spokespeople of the debt collection industry may say, this is the background of their industry. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692, et seq., was enacted to put a stop to these extreme behaviors in 1977. Because the people intended to be protected by the act are underrepresented by lawyers, and because of the explosion of debt litigation over the past decade, many of the old abuses still continue, and as people increasingly defend themselves from the debt collectors, they develop new tricks all the time.

The FDCPA: A Pretty Good Law

Nevertheless, the FDCPA is in many ways a model piece of legislation. What makes the law so powerful is that, in addition to making certain enumerated acts illegal, the Act also more generally makes acts that are “oppressive,” “false or misleading representations,” or “unfair practices” illegal. This means that, whereas in most laws, the would-be wrongdoer is free to craft his actions around the specific language of the law and find “loopholes,” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, at least, the consumer may argue that these actions are still unfair or oppressive. The Supreme Court has ruled that an “unfair” act can be shown by demonstrating that it is “at least within the penumbra” of some common law, statutory “or other established concept” of unfairness.

That’s pretty broad. The price for this flexibility, however, is that the remedies—what you get if you prove the case—are less powerful. And this may be why the practices are still occurring today.

As mentioned above, there are specific actions enumerated in the FDCPA, and these include most notably, suing on expired debts, filing suit in distant jurisdictions, publishing certain types of information regarding the debtor, calling outside of specified hours. And the list goes on. If the debt collector is acting in some highly offensive way, chances are he’s within the specific provisions of the Act. These can be found at 15 U.S.C. 1692c, d, e and f. You can find the specifics by Googling the Act or provision and determining whether the specific action you’re concerned about is within one of these provisions.

Who or What is a Debt Collector

The definition of “debt collector” became a lot less clear in 2018 when the Supreme Court ruled that owning a debt made one a “creditor” regardless of the status of the debt at the time of purchase. But there are still ways to prove that the company suing you is a debt collector. Doing so means they have to follow the FDCPA – or more particularly it means that if they don’t obey it you can counterclaim against them or file suit yourself.

The Company Suing You

The company suing you, if it’s one of the big debt collectors, probably still is a debt collector. As far as I’ve heard, these companies don’t really do anything other than buy debts and collect on them. But I doubt this situation will persist. After there is some litigation quantifying what makes an activity a “principle purpose” of the business, the debt collectors will likely buy subsidiaries or engage in some other business to an extent necessary to exempt them from the FDCPA. I would, and in this area of business and law, these guys are more knowledgeable and smarter than I am. Expect them to take steps to reduce their liability.

What Is a “Debt Collector?”and When Are You being Sued by One?

So who is a debt collector? Well, there is the classic debt collector – the company that a creditor hires to hassle debtors to pay bills to the creditor. In that situation, the debt collector is an agent of the original creditor and is supposed to follow certain rules (the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

There’s another kind of debt collector, though. This is a business or person whose “principle business” is the collection of debts. Just what percentage of business makes the activity the “principle purpose” of the business is not clear – I would suggest it is very significant, at least 90%. But that’s just a guess at this point, as there has been very little litigation on the point. It seems clear that a bank that makes lots of money on regular banking services and also has a junk debt buying subsidiary is probably NOT a debt collector.

There is a tremendous amount of confusion of who is suing you. People will tell me that they are “being sued by a debt collector, but the name on the suit is Capital One,” for example. They think that because the lawyer signs the pleadings, or a lawfirm shows up in court, that it is the lawyer who is suing them.

And in a very limited sense – but only in a limited sense – that is correct. For most purposes, the entity suing them is the one named as “plaintiff” in the lawsuit

Lawyers who Regularly Collect Debts Are Debt Collectors

The lawyer and law firm representing the company suing you are probably debt collectors within the meaning of the FDCPA. That means that their personal actions may bring them within the law, but it isn’t always clear when they will, though. It appears that if the pleading asks for something, the lawyer signing it will be liable (on the hook) personally (and his or her lawfirm, also) for the violation. But the company won’t always be liable for the actions of the lawyer – its agent – as would normally be the case for most things.

If the company was an original creditor, and the lawyer threatened you with suit, and you sought verification of the debt, would the company be unable to sue you using the same lawyer? Not likely. Because the company – not a debt collector – has no obligations to you under the FDCPA, and that’s where the right to verification comes from. If you filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on the company’s failure to verify the debt, it should be denied.

The Name on the Lawsuit Is the Important Name

If your lawsuit says “Cap One vs. You,” you are being sued by an original creditor and not a debt collector. They don’t have to play by the rules that apply to debt collectors. That means they don’t have to verify the debt, and they can do some of the things debt collectors are not allowed to do. You need to direct you Answer, Defenses, and any Counterclaims with the awareness that the other party is the original creditor and not a debt collector. It means, for example, that they needn’t verify the debt before or after suit, and that an attack by you on the ownership of the debt is not going to work – their name is on the debt. There’s no “chain of title” issue where title has never passed to another company.

But how they act when they sue you may bring the lawyers within the FDCPA.

Dispute and Debt Verification under FDCPA

Within five days of first contact, a debt collector is supposed to identify itself and advise you of your right under the FDCPA to seek verification. This right will also have what we call the “mini-Miranda,” which is notification to you that the communication is seeking payment of a debt (alleged debt) and that any information you provide will be used for the purpose of collecting that debt. You should dispute the debt and demand verification.

Disputing – A Step toward Protecting What’s Yours

Mini-Miranda

You must take the mini-Miranda seriously. Debt collectors often record, and always at least make notes of, anything you say. They are building a file on you from the first time they contact you. You should remember that anything you say that reveals financial information will be remembered by the debt collector, and that anything you say that sounds bad for you, like cussing or name-calling, may come up again at a bad time for you. This is why I say that silence is golden with debt collectors.

Verification

The other right you are told about, of course, is your right to seek “verification” or “validation.” If you request it within thirty days of receiving notice of your right, the debt collector must validate the debt and notify you before taking any further action on the debt. For some reason, debt collectors often will not do this if you seek verification, but instead will either ignore the request or sell the debt and move on to greener pastures.

What Is Verification?

Verification is not a clearly defined term. It was certainly not required as a means of slowing the debt collection process substantially. It appears to be almost a pure formality, but it does at least, according to most courts, require the debt collector to contact the original creditor and make sure, in some vague sense, that the debt is supposed to involve you. If that sounds vague or minimal to you, I’m sure you’re right. But it is an actual obligation that the debt collector take some time and do something besides harass you, and it does require them to stop harassing you, and it may give you a claim against them if they continue bugging you before verifying the debt. These are all good things.

And it often makes them go away entirely.