Some still think “debt” is a dirty word. People don’t want to think or talk about it, let alone address it.
But in truth, the very worst way to deal with overwhelming debt is to ignore it. Doing so can lead to costly default judgments in favor of creditors, resulting in liens, garnishment of wages and substantial fines and penalties for non-payment.
Miami debt defense lawyers at Jacobs Keeley are dedicated to launching an effective counter-attack against debt collectors. We relieve you of the burden of relentless collection agencies, many of which have a history of engaging in abusive, predatory and often illegal practices.
We offer help to those in the areas of:
- Credit Defense
- Student Loan Defense
- Credit Card Defense
According to the Federal Reserve, American households are $12 trillion in debt. Not all of that is bad debt, but a substantial portion of the population is considered to be “indebted,” meaning overwhelmed by debt. It’s estimated approximately 1 in 7 Americans is currently pursued by a debt collector, and 1 in 10 are having their pay docked for overdue debt. These collectors have the authority to seize 25 percent of your paycheck, and even more from your bank account.
You need to know you can fight back.
A number of substantial federal consumer protections have passed in recent years, and you may well be entitled to relief.
What many don’t realize is often debts are too old to legally collect. In other cases, collections agencies that purchase debt second-hand lack the proper legal documents or authority to force payment. Of course, the collection firms won’t tell you that. One of the reasons these companies are thriving is because people assume there is nothing they can do. Large debt-buying firms prey on this faulty assumption. They hire teams of lawyers to crank out lawsuits – millions of them – counting on a high rate of default judgments that will force people to pay.
Our experienced Miami debt defense lawyers take on debt collection firms that try to skirt the law, and we are committed to ensuring your rights and interests are protected.Debt Collectors Don’t Play Fair
Buying and selling debt has become a huge, lucrative business. The Federal Trade Commission’s 2013 report, “The Structure and Practice of the Debt Buying Industry” indicates companies typically purchase debt for an average of 4 cents on the dollar. They then turn around and collect on those debts at full face value – which means they net a huge profit.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, as the industry has expanded, so too have the number of alleged debt-collection abuses. The FTC reported more than 180,000 consumer complaints regarding debt collectors in 2012, which was more than was reported for any other industry.
One of the issues is that debts have no “sell-by” date, so companies can purchase a debt that is a decade old and pursue collection aggressively, even though they may not legally be able to collect.
Another problem is that debt is often sold and resold numerous times. By the time it gets to the agency calling for payment, that firm may not have a legal leg to stand on. Still, collectors will take the case to court. If the debtor doesn’t show up or fight back, the agency’s legal standing is never challenged. Armed with a default judgment, they can move to freeze your bank account, garner your wages, report the judgment to credit reporting agencies and pressure you into a payment plan. In some cases, personal property may even be seized to satisfy the debt.
In a fair number of cases, consumers may not owe anything at all. The FTC labels these “phantom debts.” While regulators have been cracking down on the problem more heavily in recent years, it continues to be an ongoing issue.Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
While the expansion of debt collection abuses into the courtroom is a relatively new phenomenon, the industry has long been known for its coercive collection practices aimed directly at consumers.
In 1996, lawmakers passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to curb abuses. Among those specifically cited as illegal:
- Threats of violence or physical harm;
- Use of obscene or profane language;
- Calling a debtor on the phone repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy or harass;
- Placement of calls without meaningful disclosure of caller’s identity;
- Falsely representing an association with the government, law enforcement, credit reporting agency or law firm;
- Lying about the nature, amount or legal status of certain debt;
- Threatening a consumer with jail time, even when he or she has committed no crime.
And still, we see cases like this every day.
The bottom line is consumers should never assume that debts are valid or enforceable.Hiring the Right Attorney
An attorney can stop the harassing phone calls. We can evaluate the veracity of the debt collector’s claims. We help you negotiate a workable settlement. We can use bankruptcy laws to protect consumers. Early intervention on these matters is critical. The state of Florida gives you just 20 days in which to respond to a lawsuit filed against you. You must act quickly, or else you waive important procedural rights and defenses.
You need an attorney with experience, proven success and steadfast dedication to your case.
If you're battling debt collection in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Keeley Trial Lawyers for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.
Call us at (305) 358-7991.