Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to stop debt collectors in their tracks!

Day Six of 30 days of debt and, as promised, I'm going to tell you how to stop debt collectors, even without a lawyer. At least for a while, that is. They don't have to stop entirely, but they do have to stop most things.

If you have a lawyer, and you tell a debt collector you have a lawyer, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) makes that debt collector stop calling you and start calling your lawyer, which is both good and bad. It's bad because you'll probably have to pay your lawyer to take those calls -- all lawyers have to sell, as I and Abe Lincoln say, is time and skill, and if you're using one or both, we have to charge you -- but it's good because the collectors stop calling you.

If, though, you're not at the point where you want to hire a lawyer, you can stop debt collectors, mostly through writing them a letter and telling them to stop. It's really that easy.

The FDCPA says:

If a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with
respect to such debt, except -
(1) to advise the consumer that the debt collector's further efforts are being terminated;
(2) to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor; or
(3) where applicable, to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy.

What that means is that you have to sit down and write to the debt collector, and you have to say this, or something like this: I refuse to pay this debt and you should not contact me anymore.

After that, they can't contact you except, weirdly, to say they won't contact you anymore, and/or to tell you that they may do something like sue you. But they shouldn't keep contacting you. So you can force them to stop calling and harassing you, and to put their money where their mouth is and sue you, if that's what they threaten to do.

Remember, this only applies to debt collectors, and it might just stop the phone calls and start the lawsuits, so be careful (and consult a lawyer, of course!).

But the nice thing about this is if the debt collector does contact you again, and it's not for one of the three reasons the law allows, you can sue them, and get money from them. So keep a copy of that letter, and in fact, I recommend sending two letters, on two different days. That way, debt collectors have a harder time claiming they didn't get it, since it's extremely unlikely that the post office would mess up on delivering to the same address twice on two different days.

So there you go: A lawyer told you something you can do, without incurring any legal fees. How about that? Let's have a hand for me.

Why is this picture in here?
Because if you Google "Abraham Lincoln" images,
you'll find a picture of the Abraham Lincoln Tomato.
So I included it.

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