It happens to the best of us. Financial hard times can hit unexpectedly. Sometimes no matter how much we plan, we can't prepare for everything.
Whether your financial hardship is the weight of credit card debt, daily calls from medical collections or just making enough to feed your family, YOU need to know your rights as a consumer. Do not let collectors take advantage of you and your finances.
When in third party collections, the first thing you need to know is that your debt has been written off in the providers' books. This means that your goods or services provider has already considered the account a loss and has sold its right to the account - usually for cents on the dollar.
Where there's a storm cloud, there is always a silver lining...
YOU have bargaining power!
What this essentially means is that you can literally get a 50% (if not MORE) discounted rate on your debt, AND the collection agency is still making money.
YOUR RIGHTS: DEBT VALIDATION (FDCPA - 1692g)
Once your case is placed in collections, the agency has 30 days from the day they first contacted you to validate the debt. This means that the collector on the other line cannot pressure you to pay (in any way) until the validity of the debt has been established. If you are pressured to pay the debt within the validation period, the collector will be in violation of your rights by overshadowing and also in violation of your rights under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practices Act). Further, five days after the first contact, you should receive a letter informing you of your rights during the validation processes. This correspondence contains specifics regarding your debt. (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1692g). Just like any phone calls you may get during this period, this letter cannot pressure payment by using exclamation marks - essentially, trying to 'bully' you into paying.
YOUR RIGHTS: VALIDATING A DEBT
During this period, you have 30 days to request validation of the debt acquired by the collection agency. Otherwise, the agency will assume the debt is valid and will begin implementing pressure tactics to force you to pay. An agency may validate the debt by sending you proof of your promise to pay the debt in the form of a signed contract. If the agency does not provide this validation you DO NOT have to pay! Further, any attempt to collect on a non-validated debt is a violation of the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practices Act).
If you (or any family members or friends) have been subjected to pressure tactics during (or outside of) the validation period, you may be entitled to up to $1,000.00 dollars in damages. Call us today and schedule a FREE consultation so that we can assess your case and advise you in the most expeditious course of action. Let the Prado Law Firm fight for your rights as a consumer!
Tune in next week when I will discuss the 'ins and outs' of disputing a debt in collections.