Debt Collectors Often Provide You the Wrong Information
When we think of debtors harassing consumers, we often think of debt collectors threatening jail, threatening to hurt someone’s family, berating consumers, or cursing at them. This all does happen in the debt collection world, and it’s certainly illegal. But there’s a large part of creditor harassing that isn’t so obvious and that many consumers don’t even recognize when it happens to them.
Making False Statements
As a general rule, it is illegal for a debt collector to make a representation to a consumer that is false. That may sound simple, but in many cases, especially when it comes to legal statement, a consumer may not even be aware if something that a debt collector says is false. For example, a collector may make statements such as:
- “If you don’t pay this debt it will never come off of your credit.”
- “You really don’t have any defenses to this debt.”
- “Bankruptcy won’t help you.”
- “You make too much money to lower your student loan payments.”
- “Getting an attorney to defend you will just cost you more money.”
- “We can call you whenever we want.”
Many of these statements may even be made by “friendly” debt collectors—that is, they may be made to sound like friendly advice. It may sound like the debt collector is just trying to be helpful. And it may be easy to believe the debt collector is correct. After all, the debt collector does this for a living.
In some cases, a debt collector may even argue with you if you disagree; in fact, they often argue even with attorneys, insisting they know the law better than lawyers do.
Avoiding Being Lied To
So what can you do to make sure that you’re not being told something that’s not true or to identify when a debt collector is misstating the law?
- Look for statements that sound like statements of law – Any time a debt collector says something that sounds like a legal statement, or a prediction of what may happen in court, or tries to tell you that you have a right to do something (or no right to do it), there’s a chance the debt collector is incorrect. Make sure you write down exactly what the debt collector said, the time the statement was made, and any and all information about the call. Then run the statement by a good debt defense attorney.
- Listen for absolutes – Rarely in the law can something “never” be done or “always” be done. Rarely can you do “nothing” to defend yourself or help a situation. This kind of absolutist language is usually false.
- Don’t ask questions about the law to the debt collector – the debt collector is not your attorney. Try to avoid asking what will happen if you do XY or Z. Save those questions for your debt defense attorney.
When a debt collector makes false statements, you could be entitled to money damages under the FDCPA, a federal law that protects consumers. Contact Jacobs Legal in Miami today to discuss a debt defense strategy and to see if you’re entitled to recover for something a debt collector falsely told you.