Gerri Detweiler Updated October 5, 2021
We know that if you are struggling with debt, you don’t have extra money to pay an attorney!
But, there are free and low-cost options if you need help dealing with debt collectors:
Let's face it. You are at a disadvantage when dealing with debt collectors who have much greater resources, including their own attorneys. You need to fight back or you may find yourself in an even worse situation and owe even more money than you do now.
Here’s how you can get affordable help with your debt collection problems:
Some links on this site are for services for which we may earn a commission. This helps us keep the information on this site free. Also keep in mind this information is educational, and is not a substitute for legal advice.
Did you know that if a debt collector is breaking the law, there are attorneys who will help you, and you pay nothing out of pocket for their services?
How can they afford to do that?
Because a debt collection agency that has violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may have to pay your lawyer's fees and money damages. Lawyers who work on a contingent fee basis, will take a percentage of those money damages but won't charge you if they don't win.
As a result, when you sue a debt collector for breaking the law, there is typically no out of pocket cost to you at any point, from your consultation with the lawyer to litigation to settlement.
If you need a fast answer to a specific question related to your debt-- or the debt of a relative who died-- we’ve partnered with a service that lets you ask a lawyer a question and get it answered inexpensively and conveniently online.
This affordable service lets you talk right away with an attorney so you can get answers to your specific questions like statutes of limitations, credit card debts and other unpaid debts.
If you are a debtor being sued for a debt by the collector or the original creditor, it is very important that you don’t ignore the lawsuit! If you do, the creditor or collection agency will very likely get a default judgment (automatic) against you, and once that happens, they may be able to garnish your wages or even take the money in your bank accounts depending on laws in your state.
That’s why we recommend talking with a law firm as soon as you know you have been sued or even if you are threatened with a lawsuit. The lawyer can help you understand your options.
If you owe money and there is no way you can afford to pay all or some of your unpaid debts, talk with a bankruptcy lawyer sooner, rather than later. Being threatened over debts can be scary. A bankruptcy attorney can help you understand what the debt collectors can and cannot do to you if you can’t pay your debts. Just because you talk to a bankruptcy attorney that doesn't mean you have to file for bankruptcy. The attorney can also help you evaluate options suggested by a settlement company.
If you file for bankruptcy, debt collectors cannot call you anymore, sue you in court or take other actions to collect debts included in your bankruptcy, and you may be able to discharge (eliminate) some or all of your debts. Bankruptcy gives you protection of the court if you cannot afford your debts.
Filing for bankruptcy is not free but you can get a free consultation to find out if it might be a good option for your situation.
If you've talked to an attorney and decided that's not a good option, don't give up. You can use a DIY service to research and manage your own case. Research case law, manage evidence, file motions, manage tasks and expenses and so much more. This service offers an inexpensive month-to-month membership you can use for just as long as you need it.
The research tools alone are well worth it in our view.
Legal Aid offices or legal clinics staffed by lawyers and law students provide low cost or free legal help to qualified low-income people with consumer law problems, including dealing with creditors and debt collectors. They may also be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in court at no cost.
To find a Legal Aid office in your area, type the name of your state + legal aid into a search engine like google or contact your local bar association.
Your state attorney's general office and consumer protection agencies, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission handle complaints from consumers. They don’t often get involved with individual disputes but it is still a good idea to contact them with your complaint. If they see a pattern of complaints against a particular company they may take legal action, including suing the company and stopping them from hurting other consumers. For example, in the past, they have taken actions against credit card issuers, credit reporting agencies, and collection agencies as well as stopped scammers.
The following is NOT legal advice, however, if you would like to talk with someone about settling collection accounts, we recommend you get a free consultation to find out whether debt settlement can help you put your collection accounts behind you:
Debt collectors may be breaking the law if they:
If any of these things happen to you, get legal advice. In particular you want to talk with a lawyer who has experience working with people in debt: a consumer law attorney. Abusive debt collectors who break the law may have to pay your attorney’s fees, statutory damages and/or punitive damages.
Consumer law attorneys often help individuals:
Some consumer law attorneys also practice bankruptcy law and can help you file for bankruptcy. In addition to the resources listed above, the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys offer free referrals to member attorneys.
Don’t be afraid to at least talk with a lawyer to find out whether they can help you.
Please note that neither the authors of Debt Collection Answers, or Ultimate Credit Solutions Inc. (which is the owner of this website, DebtCollectionAnswers.com) are attorneys, nor do we provide legal advice on this website. DebtCollectionAnswers.com is not an attorney referral service.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Please do not send any confidential information to us.
If you choose to conduct business with any lawyer or law office referred to you by this website, or choose to employ, contract or retain their services, etc., then you are doing so at your own discretion and risk. As a site user, you agree to errors or omissions that might occur with that firm. Choosing a lawyer is an important decision. Please keep in mind that past results do not guarantee future outcomes.
We hope you find the information and services you find here helpful, and welcome your comments!
A free debt collection attorney may help you fight back against debt collection harassment! Don’t be afraid to get the help you need to resolve consumer debt owed to credit card companies, creditors and debt collectors.