Collection Actions Attorneys in San Diego
Collection Attorneys in San Diego
In America, debt is big business, and California is no exception. The business litigation of “debt collection” is only slightly smaller. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), about 30 million Americans had debt that was subject to collection in 2011, with debt averaging some $1,400 each. Multiply the 30 million debtors by the $1,400 average debt and you get $42 billion in debt that was subject to the collection process.
That means big potential profits for the collectors, often with little to no effort and expense. The potentially easy money has drawn a new breed of debt collectors. As the CFPB report said, debt buyers and collection law firms have moved into the collection industry. As they have, collection efforts have moved from typewritten notices and phone calls to sophisticated analytic methods that allow collection firms to identify the debtors that make the best targets for collection. New telephone technology now allows even small collection firms to contact hundreds of thousands of debtors.
Lawsuits by Collection Agents
The media has reported widely on the phenomenon of debt collectors filing mountains of lawsuits against debtors, the vast majority of whom simply do not appear to defend themselves. The court enters a default judgment and the collection firm can use the usual devices to try to collect on that judgment.
Since no one is checking the accuracy of the collection firm’s claims, they may be suing to collect:
- Debts that were long ago barred by the statute of limitations
- Debts that don’t exist or to which the debtor has a good defense
- Amounts much higher than the law would allow them to collect
The best way to deal with these suits is to get quickly to a lawyer familiar with debt collection law. The first step is to respond to the notice of the lawsuit—don’t let it go to a default judgment. Once you get the facts to an experienced lawyer, there’s a good chance that you can have the collection lawsuit dismissed on any number of grounds, including the statute of limitations and the fact that the collection firm doesn’t have the right to sue in its own name because it failed to follow the necessary requirements when it purchased the debt from the original creditor.
Countersue Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA applies to collection actions by anyone who is in the business of collecting debts from a consumer on behalf of another person or entity. That means it does not apply to collection efforts by “in house” collection efforts by the original creditor. Notably, a violation of the FDCPA means the debtor can sue the violator for damages and attorneys’ fees.
In many cases, the collection firm’s lawsuit will come at the end of a string of attempts to collect the debt. In modern days, a surprisingly high percentage of these collection efforts violate the FDCPA.
The FDCPA is enforced by the FTC, which also processes and tracks formal complaints that debt collectors violated the law. And the complaints are steady. In 2011, the FTC received 117,374 FDCPA complaints—22.3 percent of all complaints it received directly from consumers. The five most common complaints to the FTC about debt collection practices in 2011:
- Harassment of the debtor or others
- Threatening that there will be dire consequences if the consumer fails to pay
- Failing to send the required written notice of debt
- Failure of the collector to identify him or herself as a debt collector
- Demanding larger payment than permitted under the law
The Boyd Law Firm Can Help
If you have been notified that a collection firm is suing you, or know someone else who has, we can help. In fact, it’s best not to wait until you are being sued. Call us if the debt collectors are at your door, your workplace, or your landlord’s house. The attorneys at Boyd Law in San Diego know what the collectors can and cannot legally do, and we know how to make them stop doing the illegal things. If you are having collection problems, call now for a free consultation.