One of the main reasons that I am a consumer protection attorney is because I want to change the current debt collector mentality. It seems like each day I hear a new story about a debt collector gone wild. Sometimes I can almost predict what my clients will say because fraudulent debt collectors tend to follow the same paths.
Other times, you hear strange stories and bizarre scenarios where the debt collectors go above and beyond what we consider normal (yet still illegal) in the debt collection world.
I see this behavior routinely. As sad as that fact is. So what can I do? I counsel my clients about their legal rights, and sometimes I suggest that they file a lawsuit against debt collectors for abusive and illegal debt collection activities. In some cases, I even suggest suing the attorneys representing debt collectors that have crossed a line (yes, this is possible).
Yesterday, I was talking to another attorney who was being harassed by a debt collector for a debt that he did not owe. The attorney was asking me whether he should engage in the letter writing to the debt collector or just file a lawsuit?
I told him to sue the bastards. He was worried about how his lawsuit would be perceived by the Judge. These are the types of things that test an individual’s faith in the American system of justice. These things happen routinely and once the consumer stands up for his rights he is met with immediate resistance.
Here is the substance of our conversation:
- Millions of Americans receive bills that are wrong each and every day.
- When the consumer contacts the business or the debt collector to try to explain the error, they are immediately met with resistance and sometimes threats.
- Millions of Americans also have problems with their credit reports.
- When they try to get their credit report repaired, they are put into a system which could work but it’s not a guarantee.
- It seems like the people in charge don’t care about listening to the consumer, don’t want to investigate the error, and will never admit that they are wrong.
- When a consumer takes a debt collector to court, and the consumer proves that the debt collector was wrong, the debt collector changes his tune and says well, it was just a simple mistake.
- The debt collector’s attorneys tell the judge that because it was a simple mistake it was ‘much ado about nothing.’There is “no harm no foul“.
- Based upon these representations from the debt collector, it gives the appearance that the consumer was making a mountain out of a molehill.
- The next argument from the debt collector’s attorneys goes like this: well judge the consumer really doesn’t have any damages that they can prove, so we really shouldn’t reward them by giving them damages for nothing, and we really shouldn’t have to pay the attorneys fees and costs for such a simple mistake that could’ve been easily corrected.
- The problem is simple. The problem could’ve been easily corrected, but it wasn’t. The consumer becomes extremely frustrated to the point that they seek out the services of a consumer protection attorney. The consumer protection attorney files a lawsuit based upon the consumer protection statute, which was enacted by the Florida legislature. The Florida legislature enacted a law to prevent exactly the type of behavior that the debt collector engaged in, debt collectors abusing consumers. That statute allows for consumers to be compensated for the damages and/or for their statutory damages. In other words, the legislature predicted that consumers may not be able to articulate a significant amount of actual damages, and therefore, created a statutory damage allowance.
- Likewise, the legislature decided to put an attorney fee shifting provision in the statute. This allows consumers to pursue these actions knowing that if they are correct, the debt collector will pay their attorneys fees in full.
- So, if the legislature decided that this issue was important enough to pass a law to protect consumers, and the legislature decided it was important enough to add an attorney fee-shifting provision, and the consumer rights were being violated in direct defiance of the statute, shouldn’t the courts take the consumer side and enforce the law against the debt collector despite the debt collectors ridiculous arguments against enforcing the law?
I believe my clients are entitled to the protections that the statute allows. I believe it is my job to make sure that my clients have their day in court. I believe it is my job to get my clients for compensated for their damages, either actual damages or statutory damages. I also believe it is my job to make sure that the other side pays my attorneys when I achieve a successful outcome for my clients.
I believe it is my job to educate the other attorney who is representing the debt collector as to why my client is entitled to full compensation on the law. I believe it is my job to educate the judge as to why the statute is there in the first place and the existing opening the statue and persuade the judge to grant my client for damages for the illegal conduct of the debt collector.
This is how you overcome the debt collector mentality. One case at a time.