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BEEN HARASSED BY LVNV FUNDING, LLC OR ITS COLLECTION AGENTS?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on May 23, 2016

 

LVNV Funding, LLC is a Las Vegas based “debt buyer”—an entity that regularly purchases defaulted (and often charged-off) debts from other entities, and then either attempts to collect the debt itself or retains an outside servicing agent to collect on their behalf. The circumstances under which LVNV operates renders them subject to mandatory compliance with the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Recently, a jury in Baltimore returned a verdict and damages award of $38 million dollars on a class action alleging that LVNV Funding violated the laws by filing lawsuits, obtaining judgments, and garnishing consumers’ wages in Maryland even though it was not licensed to operate as a debt collector under Maryland law. The damages award also encompasses the profits that LVNV Funding received from the illicitly obtained money by investing the money in other avenues and reaping profits therefrom. A news story and interview of the plaintiffs’ lawyer can be found here: http://www.wbaltv.com/money/jury-hits-debt-collector-with-38m-judgment/39657226.

Also, the law firm of Semnar & Hartman, LLP has teamed up with Mashiri Law Firm to file a proposed class action against LVNV Funding and its servicing debt collector J.C. Christensen & Associates, Inc. based on the deceptive manner the two have been attempting to collect debts from California consumers on debts that are so old they cannot be sued upon. The allegation is that LVNV and J.C. Christensen tells the consumers in their letters that the debt is so old they won’t be sued, but also offers three “settlement options” for the consumer to agree to pay the outstanding debt for less than the full balance. But the deception occurs because the debt collectors are not informing the consumers that, under California law, accepting any of the three “settlement options” creates a new contract with a new statute of limitations for them to sue the consumer upon if the consumer fails to pay the “settlement option” in full as agreed. Therefore, the consumer would actually be in a worse position than they would already be in if they agree to any of the “settlement options” but cannot actually pay the agreed amount in full. The complaint can be read by clicking HERE.

If you or a loved one have been contacted by either LVNV Funding, LLC or any of its debt collectors, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation to discuss whether your rights have been violated.

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STUDENT LOAN GIANT NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, INC. IS ONCE AGAIN IN BOILING HOT WATER OVER ITS DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES.

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on April 17th, 2016

 

On April 6, 2016, in the case of McCaskill v. Navient Solutions, Inc. in the US District Court, Middle District of Florida, Case No. 15-cv-1559, the Court granted a motion for partial summary judgment as to liability in favor of the consumer-plaintiff based on Navient calling his cell phone with an automatic telephone dialing system upwards of 727 times.

As we all know, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits a company from placing calls to a cell phone by using equipment that has the capacity to store and generate numbers to be dialed at random, and also if the calls are placed with robotic or pre-recorded voice messages. The only way for a company to not be found in violation of the TCPA for these calls is if the calls were placed for emergency purposes, or with the consumer’s prior express consent.

Because these calls were placed for purpose of debt collection, they were not for an emergency purpose. However, the issue in the lawsuit was with respect to prior express consent. Because Navient obtained the phone number through a public records search and did not get the number from Plaintiff voluntarily providing it to them, and because Navient failed to prove that she gave authority to another person to use her number for this Navient account, then Navient lost on summary judgment (meaning the evidence was so overwhelmingly in favor of the Plaintiff that Navient could not defend its case on liability in front of a jury).

Therefore, the Plaintiff in this case has now been awarded liability against Navient for upwards of 727 violations of the TCPA at $500 per call, for damages of $363,500.00. The motion for summary judgment left open for a jury to determine whether the violations by Navient were willful. If a jury does find the violations were willful, then the Court could impose triple damages in Plaintiff’s favor, thereby awarding her upwards of $1,090,500.00.

This court’s ruling can be read by clicking HERE.

Below are some very important points to be taken from the Court’s ruling:

  1. Defendants identify no facts suggesting that Plaintiff knowingly released her cell phone number to [Navient]. Indeed, Defendants point to no evidence that Plaintiff had any contact with Defendants prior to receiving their calls. Defendants instead argue that Plaintiff manifested her consent by allowing her phone to ring over 700 times without attempting to stop the calls. (Doc. # 97 at 12). The Court is not persuaded. The statute requires “express consent,” 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A), and Plaintiff’s silence in the face of 727 phone calls demonstrates, at best, presumed or implied consent, which is not sufficient under the statute. In the Matter of Rules & Regulations Implementing the Tel. Consumer Prot. Act of 1991, 30 FCC Rcd. 7961, 7991 (2015).1
  2. Defendants also suggest that there is a “significant question” about whether the -6140 number is exclusively Plaintiff’s to use, and thus whether it is a number for which Plaintiff may provide consent. (Doc. # 97 at 12). The TCPA requires prior express consent to be supplied by “the called party.” 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(A). The Eleventh Circuit holds that “the called party” is the current subscriber of the cell phone, not the intended recipient of the call. Breslow v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 755 F.3d 1265, 1267 (11th Cir. 2014)Osorio v. State Farm Bank, F.S.B., 746 F.3d 1242, 1251–52 (11th Cir. 2014). More specifically, the subscriber is “the person who pays the bills or needs the line in order to receive other calls.” Osorio, 746 F.3d 1251. Similarly, the FCC recently defined “called party” as “the subscriber, i.e., the consumer assigned the telephone number dialed and billed for the call, or the non-subscriber customary user of a telephone number included in a family or business calling plan.” In the Matter of Rules & Regulations Implementing the Tel. Consumer Prot. Act of 1991, 30 FCC Rcd. at 8000-01.
  3. Defendants point out that Plaintiff used the -6140 number as her residential line for years and also listed it as the phone number for LFJ on her 1999 application to incorporate the church. (Doc. # 97 at 11-12). These facts, while undisputed, are not directly relevant to whether Plaintiff is the “subscriber,” that is, the person who pays the bills for the number or who is the customary user of the number. Osorio, 746 F.3d 1251; In the Matter of Rules & Regulations Implementing the Tel. Consumer Prot. Act of 1991, 30 FCC Rcd. at 8000-01.
  4. Plaintiff testified that the bill for the -6140 number goes to her daughter Melissa, because she is on a family plan, but that Plaintiff pays her part of the bill. (Pl. Dep. at 24). Plaintiff also testified that she uses the phone both for herself and for LFJ, for which she is the pastor. (Id. at 43). Because Defendants cite no evidence indicating that another person pays the bills or is the customary user of the -6140 number, Defendants fail to create an issue of fact as to whether Plaintiff is “the called party” under 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(A).
  5. Because there is no evidence that Plaintiff, herself, provided prior express consent, the remaining question is whether Newsome consented on Plaintiff’s behalf. In particular, Defendants must establish that Newsome had authority to consent on Plaintiff’s behalf, and that Newsome did, in fact, consent. Osorio, 746 F.3d at 1252. Defendants argue that disputed issues of material fact exist sufficient to preclude summary judgment in Plaintiff’s favor. The Court disagrees.
  6. Taking Defendants’ version of the facts as true, Newsome may have confirmed Plaintiff’s cell phone number to Sallie Mae (a point that Plaintiff vehemently disputes). Under Florida law, however, Newsome’s conduct is not sufficient to create an apparent agency relationship absent some evidence that Plaintiff tolerated, allowed, or acknowledged Newsome’s conduct.
  7. Accordingly, Defendants fail to establish a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether any of the 727 calls were made with Plaintiff’s prior express consent. As already noted, Defendants do not otherwise dispute that these 727 calls constitute violations of the TCPA. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to Defendants’ liability on the TCPA claims (Counts I and III) is granted.

If you or a loved one is receiving calls from Navient to collect on a student loan, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation

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NAVIENT CORP UNDER SCRUTINY ABOUT POSSIBLY CHEATING MILITARY SERVICEMEMBERS ON FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on March 23, 2016

 

On March 1, 2016, Huffington Post Chief Financial and Regulatory Correspondent Shahien Nasiripour published an article that alleges the public was misled about whether Navient Corp. (under its former name Sallie Mae) violated the U.S. Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by intentionally and systematically overcharging troops on student loans for nearly a decade by failing to lower interest rates to 6% as required by the federal law. Nasiripuor writes that an internal investigation shows, “In Navient’s case, the department improperly credited the company for modifying some troops’ loans when records show that the interest rate reductions had been backdated.” He further writes,”DOJ data strongly suggested that the Education Department missed thousands of violations of federal law when it publicly exonerated Navient” and “In November, another official at the federal consumer bureau said that hundreds of thousands of troops have been forced to make at least $100 million in student loan interest payments that they actually were exempt from.”

Mr. Nasiripour’s March 1, 2016 article can be read by clicking here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/education-department-misled-public-on-student-loan-contractors-probe_us_56d5d2a7e4b0bf0dab337e33.

Previously, on February 7, 2016, Mr. Nasiripour published an article that quotes current Democratic Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton as stating that Navient Corp. is “doing some really terrible things” by “misleading” borrowers, and that Navient’s “behavior is outrageous” and she is “totally appalled” by the company. To put these statements into context, Nasiripour further wrote,

“Numerous government agencies have been investigating the nation’s largest student loan specialist over several years for allegedly overcharging borrowers and mistreating them in violation of the law. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in August told Navient, which collects borrowers’ monthly payments and counsels them on their repayment options, that it had amassed enough evidence to indicate the company violated consumer protection laws, and it might sue the company in court.”

Additionally, “New York state’s banking regulator and a group of state attorneys general are among the authorities probing Navient’s interactions with borrowers, such as its practice of threatening to seize assets from borrowers in good standing simply because a co-signer of their loan had died.”

Mr. Nasiripour’s March 1, 2016 article can be read by clicking here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-navient_us_56b7a886e4b01d80b246b214

If you or a loved one are experiencing unfairness, harassment, or oppression from Navient Corp., please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, confidential consultation to discuss whether your rights may have been violated.

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KNOWLEDGE IS POWER – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on February 25, 2016

 

It can be a very intimidating and worrisome experience to be the subject of debt collectors’ aggressive tactics. It is common to experience nervousness, fear, worry, fluttering of the heart with a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, and if the debt collector treats you with indignity you may also feel emotions of anger, embarrassment, shame, and fear. It is common in the debt collection industry for debt collectors to deliberately force their victims into paying the debt by invoking these feelings. The reasoning is that you are more likely to pay the debt if you feel uncomfortable by the interaction, thinking that if you pay them then they will go away. But you do have rights! As is clear from other blog articles on our website, you have the right to be protected from abuse, harassment, oppression, lies, and misrepresentations! Don’t take this lightly, your rights are powerful and you can use them as a shield to deflect the abuse.

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has recently put out some very helpful blog articles with videos to explain your rights. In one article, the FTC empowers people to stand up against scam artists. These FTC articles can be found here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/stand-fake-debt-collectors and https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0258-fake-debt-collectors.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of criminals out there that are more than happy to lie about who they are when they pretend to be a legit debt collector, but in reality they are simply trying to take your money through extortion. The most common trick by these con artists is to lie about suing you when there really is no lawsuit pending, and also to lie about police looking for you for committing fraud when in reality failing to pay a debt is a civil breach of contract matter and not a criminal violation. Many times, these con artists also get your employers’ information from public records and credit report inquiries, and they call your place of employment to spread these lies to your boss and co-workers in order to put pressure on you.

The FTC empowers consumers by giving the following advice:

  • Ask the caller for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell the caller you won’t discuss any debt until you get a written “validation notice.” If the caller refuses, don’t pay.
  • Put your request in writing. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires any debt collector to stop calling if you ask in writing. Of course, if the debt is real, sending such a letter does not get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact.
  • Don’t give or confirm any personal, financial, or other sensitive information.
  • Contact your creditor. If a debt is legitimate – but you think the collector isn’t — contact the company to which you owe the money.
  • Report the call. File a complaint with the FTC and your state Attorney General’s office with information about suspicious callers

If you are the subject of debt collection efforts by a legit debt collector, then you still have rights! We find the most common examples of debt collection abuse by legit debt collectors are when they misrepresent the amount you owe, try to collect interest and fees that they are not entitled to, threaten lawsuits when the debt is already barred by statute of limitations, calling at inconvenient times and/or calling with such frequency that the calls are harassing, and inaccurate credit reporting. If you are the subject of debt collection efforts, then you should still take steps to protect yourself by asking for details of who they are, where they are calling from, how did they acquire the debt, when did they acquire the debt, and from whom did they acquire the debt. The FTC has also put out an article giving similar advice, which can be found here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection.

In addition to the above, you should also not hesitate to contact a consumer protection attorney, such as us at Semnar & Hartman, LLP, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights and to see if a lawsuit can be filed on your behalf.

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TCPA VIOLATIONS RESULTS IN DEFAULT JUDGEMENT AGAINST BANK OF AMERICA IN EXCESS OF $1 MILLION

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on December 14, 2014

 

It is very common in the credit industry for collectors and creditors to use robo-calls to both cell phones and land-lines for purposes of debt collection. Robo-calls are when a computer dials a number stored within its system and when the recipient of the call answers the phone they are confronted with a robotic or pre-recorded voice message instead of a live human.

The reason for these calls being so common in the collection industry is because it is much cheaper for a company to use a machine to blast consumers with repeated calls than it is for the company to pay an employee to sit at a phone and manually dial numbers multiple times per day. However, if a consumer tells a creditor/collector to stop calling them, then every subsequent robo-dial is a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) worth $500.00-$1,500.00 per call. One couple in Tampa, Florida recently obtained default judgment against Bank of America for receiving over 700 unwanted robo-dials in a five year period. Because Bank of America failed to respond to the lawsuit in time, the couple was awarded damages in excess of $1 Million by default judgment. Of course, Bank of America will now appeal the lawsuit, and it is unclear as to how the court of appeal will handle their request to set aside the default judgment. However, the point is clear—companies should respect and honor consumers’ requests that the unwanted and harassing robo-dials cease!

A news article by “Good Morning America” describing the lawsuit as well as other debt collection harassment violations by Bank of America can be found here: https://gma.yahoo.com/couple-wins-1m-suit-against-major-bank-outrageous-002552031–abc-news-topstories.html. Additionally, a news article by “The Consumerist” about the lawsuit can be found here: http://consumerist.com/2014/12/11/bank-of-america-must-pay-family-1-million-for-5-years-of-unwanted-robocalls/ , which also has links to the court papers pertaining to the lawsuit.

If you or a loved one is receiving harassing phone calls by a creditor, debt collector, or telemarketer despite your requests that they stop calling, do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights and what you can do to make them stop.

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SPAM TEXT MESSAGE VIOLATIONS RESULT IN JUDGEMENT OF $250,500.00 AGAINST CALI GROWN COLLECTIVE

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 21, 2014

 

On November 17, 2014, Judge Staton of the Central District of California awarded the Plaintiff Judgment in the amount of $250,500.00 as a result of the Plaintiff receiving several hundred spam text messages in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), codified at 47 U.S.C. 227(b).

The lawsuit was filed as a joint effort between the following law offices Hartman Law Office, Inc., Semnar Law Firm, Inc., Kazerouni Law Group, APC, and Hyde & Swigart. The Complaint alleged that the Defendant—Cali Grown Collective—began sending spam text messages to the Plaintiff in late 2013 soliciting his business for their medical marijuana collective, and each text message offered discounted rates on various strands of medical marijuana. Unfortunately, however, these spam messages were sent without the Plaintiff’s consent or authorization, and despite the fact that the Plaintiff had never once entered into any business transaction with Cali Grown Collective and never had any affiliation with them in any manner whatsoever.

After being properly served with the lawsuit, Cali Grown Collective failed to appear in the case. When a defendant fails to appear in a case after being properly served, the party who served them can pursue default judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 55. A default judgment under Federal law means the allegations pleaded in the complaint are deemed true, which then allows the Federal court to enter judgment against the defaulting defendant and also issue monetary relief for their legal violations. A copy of Judge Staton’s Opinion entering Default Judgment against Cali Grown Collective can be found here.Order Granting Default Judgement

Because the TCPA provides monetary damages based on the number of violations–$500.00 per violation at a minimum—and because in this case Cali Grown Collective committed several hundred violations despite the Plaintiff’s numerous attempts to make the messages stop, Judge Staton issued Judgment in Plaintiff’s favor for $250,000.00. A copy of the Judgment can be found here. Conformed Judgement

If you or anyone you know is receiving spam text messages as a marketing tactic without your consent or authorization, then you have rights that should be asserted against the company. The TCPA is primarily interested in protecting consumers’ rights to privacy and their right to let companies know how they can contact the consumer. If your rights are being violated, then you can assert those rights in a formal setting to seek compensation. Call us for a free and confidential consultation for more information.

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UNSOLICITED TEXT MESSAGES TO YOUR CELL PHONE?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on April 11, 2014

 

Receiving blast text messages from a company trying to solicit you to sign up for their services, or to enter a contest, or to receive some type of discount or coupon? Then you may be entitled to compensation for a violation of your privacy rights!!

Many people don’t realize that the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) not only protects people from unwanted robo-calls to your cell phone, but it also protects people from unwanted text messages as well!

As you can tell from reading our other blogs on the TCPA, it is a federal law that allows a person to recover $500-$1500 per violation for receiving calls to a cell phone, without prior express consent and without emergency purposes, if the call is placed with either an auto-dialer and/or with pre-recorded or artificial voice messages.

In order to keep up with the changing state of the times when most people utilize text messaging as a quick and easy way to communicate, business and telemarketers have tried to change their “auto blast” tactics to text messaging. The courts and the FCC have specifically stated that unsolicited text messages also constitute a “call” for purposes of the TCPA, because it is a method of trying to communicate with the phone subscriber without prior express consent and without emergency purposes.

For instance, in Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 569 F.3d 946 (9th Cir.2009) the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal held that text messaging is a form of communication used primarily between telephones and is therefore consistent with the definition of a “call”. Further, in its opinion from February of 2012, the FCC specifically stated “The Commission has concluded that the prohibition encompasses both voice and text calls, including short message service (SMS) calls, if the prerecorded call is made to a telephone number assigned to such service.”

BE CAREFUL, though, when you opt in and opt out for text messages. If you send a text to a company to “opt in”, or to receive a discount for their services, or to enter a contest, you may have inadvertently given consent to receive a blast of text messages that you didn’t really want. After you “opt out” by texting back with “STOP”, they are allowed to send you one final confirming text message to make sure you actually meant to opt out. Any further messages beyond that one final confirming message is a violation.

Contact us today to schedule a free confidential consultation to discuss your rights!

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CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU REPORTS ON DEBT COLLECTION COMPLAINTS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on March 25, 2014

 

A governmental entity known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) exists to protect consumer’s rights. Not only does a consumer have the right to file a lawsuit against a company that has violated the person’s consumer rights, but the CFPB also has power to take complaints from consumers and enforce consumer rights by issuing civil penalties against companies that are in violation and may even seek closure of some businesses in extreme cases. The CFPB often issues reports regarding statistical data that they compile from complaints received by consumers. Below is a report that was recently issued by the CFPB regarding the types of complaints they see on a repeat basis, and the most concerning is that many people complain about being harassed about debts that they do not even owe!

If you have been contacted by a debt collector about a debt you do not owe, then your consumer rights may have already been violated as well as the rights of the person who does actually owe the debt depending on what information was conveyed to you by the debt collector. Therefore, you should not hesitate to contact us to schedule a free, confidential consultation to evaluate whether your rights have been violated and whether you may be entitled to financial compensation as a result of their abusive debt collection practices.

Report from the CFPB issued for immediate release on March 20, 2014:

CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: CONSUMERS REPORT BEING HOUNDED ABOUT DEBTS NOT OWED

Top Debt Collection Complaints Also Include Aggressive Communication Tactics and Threatening Illegal Actions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today issued a report on the more than 30,000 consumer complaints it has received about the debt collection market. The report finds that many consumers complain that they are being hounded by debt collectors about debts they do not owe. Top complaints also include debt collectors’ use of aggressive communication tactics and threats of illegal actions.

“Consumers should never be hounded about debts they do not owe,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We will not tolerate companies harassing consumers or threatening illegal actions in the debt collection market. We will continue to work hard to ensure that consumers are treated with dignity and fairness.”

Debt collection is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is estimated that there are more than 4,500 debt collection firms nationwide. Banks and other original creditors may collect their own debts or hire third-party debt collectors. Original creditors and other debt owners also may sell their debts to debt buyers. Debt buyers may sell the debt, collect the debt themselves, or hire third-party debt collectors to do so.

Approximately 30 million Americans had, on average, $1,400 of debt subject to collection in 2013. The main law that governs the industry and protects consumers is the 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) revised the FDCPA, making the Bureau the first agency with the power to issue substantive rules under the statute. Today’s annual report to Congress highlights the Bureau’s efforts to carry out the FDCPA.

Consumer Complaints

The Bureau began accepting debt collection complaints in July 2013. These complaints quickly became the largest source of complaints each month. The Bureau received 30,300 debt collection complaints between July and December 2013. Companies have already responded to about 82 percent of the complaints the Bureau has sent to them for a response in that time frame. The top three complaints were about:

  • Collectors hounding consumers about a debt they do not owe: More than one-third of the complaints the CFPB handled were about a debt collector continually attempting to collect a debt that the consumer does not believe is owed. Of these complaints, almost two-thirds of consumers report that the debt is not theirs, while others report that the debt was paid, was the result of identity theft, or was discharged in bankruptcy.
  • Aggressive communication tactics used by debt collectors: Nearly a quarter of the complaints received by the Bureau were about debt collectors using inappropriate communication tactics. More than half of those complaints cite frequent or repeated calls from a collector and often the collector is calling the wrong phone number. Consumers also complain about debt collectors calling their places of employment or collectors using obscene, profane, or abusive language.
  • Taking or threatening an illegal action: About 14 percent of consumers report that a company is taking or threatening an illegal action. Most of these complaints are about threats to arrest or jail consumers if they do not pay. Other complaints relate to collectors threating to sue or attempting to seize property.

Taking or threatening an illegal action: About 14 percent of consumers report that a company is taking or threatening an illegal action. Most of these complaints are about threats to arrest or jail consumers if they do not pay. Other complaints relate to collectors threating to sue or attempting to seize property.

The CFPB took several important steps to protect consumers and create a level playing field for law-abiding debt collectors in 2013. The Bureau’s larger participant rule for debt collection became effective on January 2, 2013. Under this rule, the Bureau has supervisory authority over any firm with more than $10 million in annual receipts from consumer debt collection activities, which extends to about 175 debt collection companies.

In November 2013, the Bureau took the first step toward considering consumer protection rules for the debt collection market with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR). Through this ANPR, the Bureau is collecting information on a wide array of issues, including the accuracy of information used by debt collectors, how to ensure consumers know their rights, and the communication tactics collectors employ to recover debts. The Bureau can use the information it gathers to inform future rulemaking.

The Bureau also pursued two debt collection enforcement actions in 2013. The Bureau sued an online loan servicer, CashCall Inc., its owner, its subsidiary, and its affiliate, for collecting money on loans that were legally invalid. The Bureau also ordered payday lender, Cash America International, Inc. to refund up to $14 million to consumers for robo-signing court documents in debt collection lawsuits. Through its ongoing supervision and enforcement activities, the Bureau will continue to prevent and deter debt collectors from violating the law.

The Bureau issued sample letters consumers can use in dealing with debt collectors. These letters may help consumers obtain valuable information about claims being made against them or may help consumers protect themselves from inappropriate or unwanted collection activities. And the Bureau’s interactive online tool, Ask CFPB, contains more than 85 questions and answers related to the topic of debt collection.

A copy of today’s report is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201403_cfpb_fair-debt-collection-practices-act.pdf

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WHAT IF I AM SUED BY A DEBT COLLECTOR OR CREDITOR?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on March 16, 2014

 

You MUST contact an attorney right away to evaluate your case! Debt collectors and credit card companies often file a high volume of lawsuits without all the necessary documentation to actually prove their case, and they often rely on false proofs of service that fraudulently claim the consumer was personally served.

There have been many times where the debt collector or credit company wins default judgment against a consumer and then starts issuing levies upon the consumer’s bank accounts even though the debtor was not even aware she or he was sued because the proof of service fraudulently claims the consumer was served!

There are also many times when a debt collector or credit card company files a lawsuit without sufficient proof to actually win the lawsuit because they don’t have proof that the person sued is actually the person who owes the debt or they don’t have proof that they are within the statute of limitations, but because the consumer was too afraid to appear in court they didn’t show up and then the debt collector or credit company gets default judgment for a case that they could not have even won in the first place!

It is also a violation of consumer rights to be sued in an area of the state that is inconvenient and detrimental for the consumer to have to appear in.

Even if the lawsuit is legit and the consumer has been personally served, the debt collector or credit company may have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in their methods of trying to collect the debt before filing the lawsuit, and they are therefore subject to a cross-complaint for their own legal violations. Many times the amount of money they owe the consumer for violating consumer rights far exceeds the amount of the alleged debt upon which they have filed the lawsuit in the first place.

The bottom line is, if you are being threatened with a lawsuit or if you have received notice that you have been sued by a debt collector or credit company, YOU MUST CONTACT AN ATTORNEY RIGHT AWAY. Our offices provide free and confidential consultations to evaluate your case, and if we discover a basis to file a lawsuit against them for violating your consumer rights then we can represent you at NO COST TO YOU. We have been successful in having many lawsuits dismissed against our clients because the debt collection and credit companies have realized that our lawsuit against them for violation of consumer rights could far exceed any amount of judgment they could obtain from the consumer.

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WHAT IF I’M BEING CONTACTED BUT MY FRIEND/FAMILY MEMBERS ACTUALLY OWES THE DEBT?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on February 2, 2014

 

Debt collectors often contact friends and/or family members of the person who actually owes the debt, and this is called “third party contact”. Third party contacting is usually done in an effort to obtain contact information for the person who actually owes the debt (called the debtor), to use the friend/family member to get the debtor to pay the debt, or even sometimes in an effort to the get the friend/family member to pay the debt themselves! Both you, as the third-party, and the debtor may be able to sue the debt collector depending on what the debt collector states in the phone call.

If the debt collector informs you as the third party that the person they are trying to contact owes a debt, that is a violation and the debtor can sue for monetary relief and a court order to stop the calls.

If the debt collector is contacting you as the third party in an effort to obtain contact information for the debtor, and if we can prove that they already have that person’s contact information, that is a violation of your rights as a third-party and you can sue for monetary relief and a court order to stop the calls.

If the debt collector calls you as the third party more than once, or if they try to urge you to notify the debtor to call them back, or if they lie to you in any manner, then that is a violation of your rights as the third party and you can sue for monetary relief and a court order to stop the calls.

Bottom line, the ONLY legal reason for a debt collector contacting you as the third party is to call you ONE TIME to request contact information for the debtor, but they have to walk a very fine line because they also cannot inform you that the debtor owes a debt. If you have been contacted by a debt collector looking for a friend or family member, you should contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation to discuss whether your consumer rights have been violated.