Has a creditor threatened you with jail if you don’t pay them? FDCPA says this is illegal!

Has a creditor threatened you with jail for non-payment of a monetary debt?  This is most probably illegal according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).  Collectors often harass and threaten debtors with all sorts of things that they have no right to threaten.  They will often threaten jailing you if you don’t pay today!  A person just contacted me with this problem and the client was threatened by a creditor to have police show up at their work and arrest them if they did not pay today!  And this creditor did not even file a lawsuit yet!

This is clearly illegal!  With no lawsuit filed there is no judgment and with no judgment no legal right to collect on this debt.  This creditor would have to first obtain this judgment which would give them the right to collect but in California there is no going to jail for owing strictly monetary debts.  And to threaten that police will show up at someone’s work and arrest them when they cannot is a violation of FDCPA section 807(4).

In that section it clearly states that an implication that non-payment will result in arrest or imprisonment unless that action is legal and intended by the party is a violation of this law.  In my client’s case there is no arresting or jailing someone for owning monetary debts so this threat was a violation of the law.  If my client could prove it then we could win damages against this collector.  I told this person to tell the collector that they were recording the call next time and see how fast he hangs up.

Section 807(5) restates this and says that any threat to take any action that is not legal or intended is a violation of the FDCPA.  So this collector violated this section too.  My question is can we get this guy to say this clearly into the microphone so we can replay it for the judge?

So don’t take any crap off of these creditors.  I hate to hear these stories and I answer these e-mails immediately.  We live in a great country where we pride ourselves in our freedom but if these collectors can violate the law with impunity then it threatens all of us.

In a previous blog I discussed how these collectors by far receive the greatest number of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission.  They routinely harass, threaten, bother and annoy people and they are now routinely violating the law I believe.  So know your rights and don’t allow them to bamboozle you.

I am an attorney who practices bankruptcy law in California.  For more information please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com .  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis! 

If you or someone you know needs to file bankruptcy please get my FREE E-BOOK; 13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” by e-mailing me at: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

Don’t answer your cell phone! New bill would allow collectors of goverment debt to robocall you!

In a move that is not typical of Democrats, the Obama administration is pushing a bill that would make it easier for the private collection industry to robocall your cell phone when you owe a debt to the government.  Robocalling is when a collector calls your phone number endlessly, excessively, and ceaselessly, until you tear your hair out or throw your phone away.

This proposal is tucked into the deficit reduction bill that is in Congress now according to an AP article and it is intended as a means to collect more money for the government.  This law applies to debts owed to government agencies. These debts are primarily student loans but I suppose the law could apply to any government debt like back taxes, tickets, fines, fees or penalties.

These debts may have been owed originally to the government but the government will transfer them to private debt collection companies who want to robocall your cell.  The department of education apparently has the largest share of these debts at $28 billion that they have passed out to 22 private collection companies.

A a Boston-based consumer law center spokesman says in the article that this “is just going to lead to more harassment and abuse, and it’s not going to help the government collect any more money.”  The spokesperson goes on to say that people aren’t paying their student loans because they have not been harassed enough but they are not paying these debts because they can’t find a job.  The administration as of yet has no estimate of how much money they expect to collect from this practice.

I agree that it is likely that very little money will actually be collected by allowing robocalling of cell phones.  This new practice will just result in more stressed out people who cannot answer their cell phones for fear of getting one of these collectors on the line.  My bankruptcy clients which I interview every day typically are broke and out of work and they want very much to pay their bills but they cannot.  They universally have the desire to pay the bills but not the means.

I believe in the old saying that you can’t get blood from a turnip.  If people have no money and no job then no amount of phone calls will change reality.  If you mistakenly pick up a call and talk to one of these collectors then you will get no sympathy and just demands to pay.  If you say you have no money they won’t believe you and tell you to borrow the money.  These collectors are incentive driven and they don’t appear to care what you have to say as they get paid as much as 17% of what they collect from you.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulates the collection industry.  The FTC receives more than 100,000 complaints a year from the collection industry alleging harassment, demands for ridiculously large and unaffordable payments, and threats of jail time (which is illegal under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act).  Apparently the collection industry receives more complaints than any other industry in America.

This move by the Obama administration perplexes consumer groups and Democrats alike.  The article points out that this bill aligns the administration more closely with the collection industry.  Democrats normally are more friendly to those in debt and generally Democrats protect consumers from additional potential harassment.  Many Democrats opposed the creditor friendly bankruptcy reform bill of 2005. (Joe Biden supported the law as he was from Delaware where many credit card companies are incorporated).  Many Democrats are now indicating that they can’t support this bill.

Hillary Clinton sponsored a bill a few years ago to make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy.  That bill went nowhere though and these student loans are still non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.  So are the other government fines, fees, penalties, and most tax debt.  But the point is that they are not going unpaid because people are not being robocalled enough.  People have no jobs and no money and that is why payment is not forthcoming.

Robocalling by private collectors is currently allowed under Federal law on landlines but only individually dialed calls are allowed to on cell phones.  Since more and more people have only cell phones now the collection industry has been lobbying the administration for this change in the law according to a spokesperson quoted in the article.  Apparently the lobbying has worked as the Obama administration has heard the call and pushed for this law.  The spokesperson says that robocalling is the most “efficient” way of collecting debts.  If you have ever been on the other end of the line that is receiving these robocalls you may have a different view as I have.

This is a terrible idea that will collect little money and result in the increased harassment of people with no means to pay these debts.  My clients come into my office already tapped out and they have no extra income even when we get their credit card debts discharged in bankruptcy.  If these people are not paying on these loans it is probably because they have either no job and no income or they are working at a reduced rate and barely affording their current bills.

If you are in this situation or you know someone who is, send them to myself of another bankruptcy attorney in your area.  We can help them discharge the credit card and other private debts so that more money is freed up to pay the non-dischargeable government debts like the student loans.  You can work out a payment plan for the student loans if you can afford one.

If this law is passed then debt collection will become that much more invasive, annoying and bothersome.  My advice will then be: don’t answer your cell!

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For more information please visit my websites at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  For a free consultation on bankruptcy or debt please call (619) 702-5015.  Call now for free credit report and analysis! 

If you or someone you know may need to file a bankruptcy get my FREE E-BOOK: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING by e-mailing me at: farquharesq@yahoo.com.

What bankruptcy can do for you!

Have you considered bankruptcy?  If you have many debts which you cannot pay then it may be good idea to consider filing.  If creditors are calling you 50 times a day and your credit score is shot then it might be time to consider it.  If you have lost a job, or faced medical issues and debt, or retired with huge debts, or if the debts have just been building for many years then it might be time to consider it.  (See here for additional reasons of why you should file for bankruptcy).

Don’t just put off the filing bankruptcy because the problems and the debt won’t go away.  The creditors will keep calling and will keep selling your debts to other collectors who will take the same actions.  Eventually they will sue and get judgments which could result in your wages being taken or your bank account being taken or your house being liened and sold.   Your credit score will never improve as long as you are in this cycle and you will have no peace.

The good news is that bankruptcy can eliminate all of this negativity and give you a fresh start in life.  You can get the creditor calls to stop immediately even before you file bankruptcy if you hire an attorney to represent you concerning your debts.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act states that all calls must stop once you hire a lawyer and all of those calls must go to the lawyer.

Once you file bankruptcy a “stay” descends upon you and everything you own.  This stops any and all attempts to collect these debts.  This would include any lawsuits that were filed against you as well as any garnishments or other collection efforts.  Even some of the money taken by garnishment or attachment can be returned to you.  Contact an attorney for this step.

Once you receive your bankruptcy discharge then you are no longer legally liable for those debts and they are effectively extinguished.  The former debts will appear on your credit report now as “discharged in bankruptcy” and they will no longer drive down your score each month.  The bankruptcy itself will lower your credit score in the short-term but you can rebuild your score in the long-term.  You will get new credit and use it wisely and rebuild your score that way.  People have financed homes in as little as two years after a bankruptcy.

So bankruptcy can do a lot for you to eliminate your debts and give you a fresh start but most of all it will give you piece of mind!  Now what is that worth?

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  Please visit my websites for more help at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com.  Or call for a free consult on any bankruptcy or debt issue. at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for a free credit report and analysis!

If you or someone you know may need to file a bankruptcy then please get my FREE E-BOOK: “13 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO TO PREPARE FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING” by e-mailing me at farquharesq@yahoo.com.