Our Ontario fair debt collection lawyers have seen a flood of complaints in recent months about underhanded tactics by collection agencies. So we were disappointed, but not very surprised, to see an article in the Tulsa World Nov. 11 about a series of statements to Oklahoma residents from a debt collector trying to illegally collect on old debts. According to the article, RJM Acquisitions Funding LLC has been contacting Oklahomans with demands for thousands of dollars to pay off debts that go back many years. What it doesn't tell the recipients is that Oklahoma has a five-year statute of limitations on debt, meaning that consumers aren't obligated to pay debts older than five years.
The article says New York-based RJM is a junk debt buyer, which means it pays very little for older debts that the original creditors have given up on collecting. Junk debt buyers then call the debtors and demand payment without mentioning any applicable statute of limitations. They hope to reach consumers who don't understand their rights and will agree to pay up. When they do, the debt is again considered valid and collectable under the law. Not only will this not improve the consumer's credit, but it can put the consumer on a list of "easy marks," setting him or her up for more harassing phone calls. Instead of paying, the article recommends that consumers request validation of the debt in writing. If the debt isn't valid, this may be enough to drive the debt collector away.
As Orange debt collection harassment attorneys, we're pleased to see articles like this, which try to educate consumers about their rights. As the article notes, collection agencies frequently rely on consumers' ignorance to get payments they aren't legally entitled to request. In our experience, they also depend on lack of consumer education to protect them from legal consequences for their use harassment, threats, verbal abuse and other practices that are banned by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Debt collectors cannot legally put consumers in jail, request more money than owed, contact relatives (other than a spouse) and neighbors or use vulgar language -- but media reports show that they do it anyway.
At Howard Law LLP, we fight back on behalf of our clients with another important provision of the FDCPA. Consumers who can prove a violation of the law, or similar state laws, can sue the debt collector for $1,000 per violation, plus attorney fees and any actual costs of the violation -- such as a lost job or a new phone line. Our Vista abusive debt collection lawyers can stop the harassment, recover all of these costs and send a strong message to collection agencies that illegal behavior is not acceptable. We also handle class-action FDCPA lawsuits, in which many consumers harmed by the same abusive debt collector band together to bring a larger, more punitive case. No matter what their past actions, all Americans are entitled to be free of harassment, abuse and legal violations.
If you believe a debt collector broke the law in contacting you and you're ready to fight back, Howard Law can help. To learn more at a free, confidential evaluation of your case, please contact us through our Web site or call 1-800-872-5925.