Credit Card Debt Defense
Are you drowning in debt? Are aggressive debt collectors snapping at your heels? If this is the case, then you are not alone. Americans are constantly bombarded with inflated bills and payments including mortgage payments, automobile payments, insurance payments, telephone bills, etc. The sad consequence of this is that millions of Americans resort to credit cards to make ends meet and quickly accrue a substantial debt they have no means of paying back. Moreover, the ramifications of credit card debt and unhealthy debt management takes an emotional toll on people causing undue stress and anxiety. This does not have to be the case.
Overzealous debt collectors hoping to collect added interests on substantial outstanding debts target these same people. While not every debt collection agency practices shady means of collection, a substantial few break the law when attempting to collect a debt. If you are ever harassed in any way by a credit card debt collection agent or agency, you are liable to seek damages for their transgressions.
Are you being sued for credit card debt?
Another practicality people with outstanding credit card debt face is being sued by their creditor. While not common practice, creditors can sue to collect an outstanding debt. Typically, creditors will only resort to a lawsuit if the debt is substantial. However, sometimes a creditor will resort to deceptive means in attempt to collect the credit debt.
As lawyers focusing on Credit Card Debt Defense, Bilu & Bilu can help you mount an aggressive defense and pursue grounds for case dismissals and substantial discounts on your credit debt for you.
JUNK DEBT ALERT
What is "Junk Debt" and how can it affect me?
Junk Debt is a multi-billion dollar industry involving charged-off debt which is often sold to large investors or similar enterprises for pennies on the dollar in the hope of turning a lucrative profit. The junk debt buyer is permitted to collect upon or sue for the entire value of the debt, not just what they paid for it. These "junk debt buyers" purchase large portfolios of delinquent or charged-off accounts from credit card companies, or even other collection agencies. These companies (and sometimes law firms) are commonly referred to as "bad debt buyers", "zombie debt collectors", "debt buyers" or "bottom-feeders." These companies fall under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, definition of a "collection agency" and are subject to all penalties therein. As the visibility and profitability of this rapidly expanding new industry has grown, junk debt buyers range in size from small private businesses up to multi-million dollar, publicly traded Wall Street companies. Credit card debt accounts for nearly 70% percent of the accounts sold to junk debt buyers, followed by auto loans, telecommunications debt and retail accounts. If the junk debt buyer is unsuccessful in collection upon the debt after systematically harassing you with letters and telephone calls, they will often resort to the filing of a lawsuit against you. Unfortunately, the bottom-feeders win the 80%-90% percent of the time because people do not bother to show up to Court or are simply not aware of their legal rights. Once a judgment is entered against you, your wages and bank accounts are subject to garnishment and your vehicle and other personal items may even be seized and sold at auction to satisfy the judgment (debt).
How do I know if I am being sued or contacted by a Debt Buyer that may be the owner of a "Junk Debt?"
It may be difficult to answer this question if you are not familiar with the names in the industry; however here is a list of thirty names who may buy junk debt or the law firms which are sometimes known for representing the owners.
Adam Jeffrey Katz, P.A.
Andreu & Palma, P.A.
Arrow Financial Services, LLC
Asset Acceptance, LLC
Atlantic Credit & Finance, Inc.
Bray & Lunsford, P.A.
CACV, LLC aka CACH, LLC ("Collect America")
Cavalry Portfolio Services, LLC
David E. Borack, P.A.
Dodge Enterprises, Inc.
inancial Independence Services Corp.
Hayt, Hayt & Landau
Jacobson, Sobo & Moselle
Law Offices of Melissa A. Ferris, P.A.
LVNV Funding, LLC
Marcadis & Associates, P.A.
Shafritz & Braten, P.A.
Midland Credit Management ("Midland Funding, LLC")
Westport Recovery Corp.
Palisades Collections, LLC
Pollack & Rosen, P.A.
Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC
Rubin & Debski, P.A.
Law Offices of Harold E. Scherr
Sprechman & Associates, P.A.
NCO Financial Systems
Unifund CCR Partners, G.P.
Wagner & Hunt, P.A.
Mann Bracken, LLP or Wolpoff & Abramson, LLP
Zakheim & Associates, P.A.
What Legal Defenses might be available to me?
Debt Buyers often resort to having their minions constantly call and write letters in an effort to collect on their sometimes time-barred debt. These telephone calls and letters from debt collectors can be both annoying and embarrassing. According to Federal law, you can put a stop to this form of harassment with a letter from a qualified consumer attorney. In fact, a junk debt buyer who contacts you after receiving such a letter may be subject to $1,000.00 dollars in penalties (per violation) and be forced to pay for your reasonable attorney's fees. As a service to our clients, Bilu & Bilu will contact these entities and stop them from harrassing you and your family.
Junk debt buyers generally buy their debts for cents on the dollar and then attempt to find ways to collect on that debt. Often times, the debt is "time-barred" (That is, the statute of limitations on it has expired and it no longer legally needs to be repaid). The buyer then attempts to get the debtor to pay a small portion of the debt. If the debtor does so, they have reaffirmed the debt and started the statute of limitations over again. It is very important that consumers be aware of their rights and the laws that protect them as an alarmingly large number of these debt buyers are barely operating within the law. Many consumers often ask, What is the Statuye of Limitations for my debt? Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule. Some lawyers often state the general rule that the Statute of Limitations in Florida is 4 or 5 years depending upon the nature of the debt. However Bilu & Bilu has successfully argued that many debts are time-barred in some cases even if less than five years have gone by since the consumer's last date of payment.
Some typical practices by junk debt buyers include pursuing debts that are not actually owned by the consumer in question; harassment or verbal abuse; multiple listings of the same debt; and, as stated previously, attempting to collect a debt that has passed it's statute of limitations. Frequently in these situations, the junk debt buyer will use the practice of "re-aging" an account which basically means that they report it as more recent than it really is. In addition to a Statute of Limitations defense, many consumers will also have additional legal defenses, such as the failure of the debt buyer to comply with what is known in the law as a "condition precedent". This means that if the person suing you failed to follow a certain procedure or perform a particular act, a competent lawyer can have your entire lawsuit dismissed.
Finally, many debt collectors, especially the junk debt buyers, may have difficulty proving details regarding a debt. In Florida, every Plaintiff in a civil case has to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence, often referred to as the "burden of proof." Junk Debt Buyers are often unable to meet this burden due to a lack of paperwork, the fact that the debt was previously paid off, or an unrelated act, such as identity theft.
Most importantly, never ignore the lawsuit even if you do not recognize the party suing you. If you do not defend the lawsuit, you lose - plain and simple. Always consult an attorney to apprise you of your legal rights.
Violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
It is no secret debt collectors sometimes resort to persistent and overly aggressive tactics when attempting to collect outstanding debts. However, did you know that most of these tactics are also against the law? In both state and federal levels, laws and statutes recognize the devious methods debt collection agents and agencies utilize to scare debtors into handing over their hard-earned money.
To curb abusive debt collection practices the federal government passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in 1978. The FDCPA actively prohibits debt collectors from using deceitful methods to collect outstanding debts. In fact, under this law the debt collector may actually have to pay $1,000.00 dollars for violating your rights!
Debt collection agencies sometimes use below-the-belt tactics in an attempt to intimidate you into paying a debt you have very little means to pay. Not only is this unfair, but also unreasonable. Seldom do debt collectors take into account your current standard of living and the people that depend on you for food and shelter. When a debt collector uses profane language, lies, and threatens when speaking with you, they have broken the law and should be held accountable.
If a debt collection agent or agency has ever threatened you in any way, you have been the victim of debt collection abuse and you can file a lawsuit to protect your consumer rights and pursue compensation for damages.
Examples of illegal debt collection tactics include:
Calling too early in the morning before or too late at night
Telephone calls made from an auto-dialer
Using profane language when attempting to collect
Threatening you in any manner
Not revealing their identity
Suing on a time-barred debt
Misrepresenting the debt in any way
Contacting you when represented by an attorney
Contacting third parties regarding your debt
Are you currently being illegally harassed by a debt collection agency?
The Arbitration Trap
Many of us do not realize that the vast majority of credit card agreements contain an arbitration clause which waives one's rights to have their dispute heard in a court of law. Unscrupulous debt collectors often use this provision to entitle their clients to judgments without the consumer ever having their day in court. It does not matter whether your debt is time-barred or if you ever in fact had an agreement to arbitrate. If you do not respond right away, the so-called "neutral" arbitrator will more or less take the debt collector at their word. At the supposedly "neutral" arbitration, the arguments of both sides are ultimately decided by a third party, an independent arbitrator whose decisions are subsequently binding upon a court of law. But how neutral is this third party? Some studies show that the arbitrator, such as those working for the National Arbitration Forum, decide in favor of the credit card companies a whopping 97% percent of the time! Could this have something to do with the fact that his fees are paid by the debt collector and/or credit card company? Many consumer advocates suspect that this is in fact the case. As the saying goes, arbitration is often the best justice money can buy.