Need to Sue a Debt Collector?

Do you need to sue a debt collector? Most debt collectors abide by the law when they are trying to collect money from consumers; but there are bad apples out there willing to use illegal tactics to try to get consumers to pay up. And sometimes that means that instead of worrying about a debt collector suing you, you should sue the debt collector.  

It’s important if a debt collector contacts you, to know what the collector can and can’t do according to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If you believe that the debt collector has crossed the line and may be using illegal tactics to try to collect money from you, you may want to contact a local consumer law attorney with experience handling collection cases.

After talking with you, the attorney may suggest that you sue the debt collection agency. (Your state may have its own debt collection law that is stronger and gives you more rights than the federal law. If you pursue a lawsuit, your attorney will file it using either the federal law or your state’s law -- whichever is best for you.)

Help I can't afford an attorney!

If you are having trouble coming up with the money you need to pay your debts, you may think you can't afford an attorney’s help. Think again.

If you win a case against a debt collector for violating your legal rights, the court may order the debt collector to pay damages plus your attorney's fees.

Therefore, some attorneys may agree to take your case either in exchange for your paying them a small upfront fee or retainer, or on a contingent fee basis, which would mean that the attorney will only get paid if you win your case.

And the fact is many of these cases settle before they go to court.

Tip: Call the Collection Complaint Hotline 888-711-5183 for a free, confidential case evaluation with an attorney in your state. This service is free, and there is no fee unless you win your case.

Examples of illegal collection activity

Here are some examples of when if may be necessary to sue a debt collector who has violated your rights under the FDCPA. The collector:

  • Uses obscene, profane or abusive language when talking with you.
  • Threatens you with violence
  • Calls you repeatedly with the intent of harassing or annoying you. For example, the collector calls you over and over on a single day or multiple times during the same week.
  • Threatens to ruin your credit forever, to tell your employer, your parents or someone else you know about the money you owe, or to throw you in jail.
  • Threatens to garnish your wages, take your home or put liens on some of your assets without the legal authority to follow through on the threats. To do so, the debt collector must sue you and win the lawsuit first.
  • Represents or implies that he is an attorney when he is not. However, some attorneys do collect debts for their clients – and if they do, they must abide by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  • Misrepresents the amount of the debt that you owe or tries to collect a debt that you already wiped out through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • Continues contacting you after you’ve informed the debt collector that you do not want to be contacted about your debt again.
  • Keeps contacting you at work after you’ve told the collector that your employer does not want him to contact you on the job.
  • Calls you before 8AM or after 9PM, unless you’ve told the collector that it’s okay to call you then.
  • Does not provide you with written verification of the debt he says you owe after you’ve asked for that information.

Good records are essential if you are contacted by a debt collector that you believe is violating your rights; they could mean the difference between winning and losing if you decide to sue a debt collector.

Your records may include copies of correspondence between you and the collector, canceled checks, account statements, and receipts, among other things.

Also, it’s an excellent idea to keep a record of the details of any phone conversations you may have with the collector. A great way to do that is to complete our Collector Contact Worksheet.

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