How Debt Collection Laws Can Truly Protect Disabled People
Debt collection laws protect everyone who owes money, but the disabled especially benefit in a big way. Bill collectors calling you can be stressful, even further disabling. Don't let that happen!
If a bill collector has broken state or federal debt collection laws when trying to collect from you, you can often get FREE professional legal help from an experienced attorney.
Why? Because under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a collection agency that breaks the law may have to pay damages of $1000 or more, plus attorney fees if you successfully sue them.
For that reason, some attorneys will take your case on a "contingent fee basis," which means there is no upfront cost to you. They will be paid by the collection agency, and only if you win.
When Do You Consult An Attorney?
Contact a consumer law attorney right away if a bill collector has:
- Harassed you,
- Used profane or obscene language,
- Verbally abused you because you can't pay your bills,
- Called you repeatedly just to annoy or pressure you,
- Refused to verify your debt or send you any written information about the debt,
- Threatened to go after your disability benefits if you don't pay,
- Inflated the amount you owe with questionable interest charges or fees,
- Told you that you could be arrested for failing to pay your debts,
- Discussed your debt with neighbors, friends or relatives (or threatened to do so), or
- Said your credit can be ruined forever if you don't pay.
A bill collector who has done any one of the above listed things has broken a federal law (the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) and you have a legal right to sue for damages.
How To Find An Attorney
Make sure you speak with an attorney who has expertise in suing debt collection agencies. You can find an attorney through one of these sources:
- The Collection Complaint Hotline: Call 888-694-5077 for a free confidential consultation with an attorney in your state who sues debt collectors. This service is free. The attorneys who participate do not collect a fee unless you win your case.
- NACA.net: Attorneys who are members of the National Association of Consumer Advocates represent consumers in consumer law cases, including debt collection lawsuits. You can search for an attorney in your area with expertise in debt collection cases. Not all of these attorneys take cases on a contingent fee basis, so be sure to ask upfront how much they will charge for a consultation.
Warning: You have only one year to sue a debt collector who violates the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and there may be a time limit on how long you can sue under state debt collection laws. If you think a debt collector has broken the law, talk with an attorney right away.
Don't be nervous about speaking up for your rights here. Most lawsuits against collection agencies are settled before they ever go to trial.
For more information on how to handle debt collectors, get Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights by Gerri Detweiler and Mary Reed.
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