Consumer complaints about debt collection activities have increased significantly. Between 1999 and 2009, complaints to the Federal Trade Commision about collection agencies, debt buyers, collection attorneys and mortgage servicers increased from 10,000 to almost 90,000. The growth in the “debt buying” industry has led to many of these new complaints. Each year creditors write off hundreds of billions of dollars in debt that they believe to be uncollectible. But for the consumers who owe the debt the story doesn’t end there. For pennies on the dollar “debt buyers” will purchase debt to try collection of their own. Using automated robocalls, lawsuits and other tactics debt buyers work to collect debt that might be several years old.
Fortunately for the consumers facing these debt collection activities there are several options. First, there might be defenses to a debt collection lawuit such as the statute of limitations or a lack of evidence that the debt is owed. Most debt collection lawuits aren’t opposed by consumers and debt buyers count on no opposition so they can obtain default judgments. Raising defenses to these lawsuits might result in dismissal. Second, consumers can go on the offensive by bringing an action against debt buyers for violation of federal and state debt collection laws. Debt buyers who engage in illegal debt collection activity like robocalls to cell phones without permission, harassment, calls to third parties and many other actions can be liable for damages and attorney fees. Third, if the amount of debt is significant, bankruptcy can be filed to discharge the debt while also preserving a consumer’s right to bring a fair debt collection lawuit against the debt collector. If you’re facing debt collection contact us as soon as possible to discuss your options.