For most people facing the prospect of filing for bankruptcy, it seems that nothing is more stressful than getting behind on your debts. Knowing that you have obligations that you simply cannot meet, bills that you cannot pay—it’s enough to make the average person feel anxious, frustrated, and even helpless. Now imagine a collector calls about one of those debts and threatens you with arrest and imprisonment if you don’t pay. That’s what happened to one of our clients just this past year.
Our client, let’s call her Mary, had gotten behind on a debt with a department store. That debt was later either assigned or sold to a debt collector called Creditors Interchange Receivable Management, LLC. Creditors Interchange began calling Mary at home. They left several messages on her answering machine telling her that a lawsuit was being “finalized” against her for the department store debt. In their final message, an employee of Creditors Interchange told Mary “the authorities” were coming to her home and the only thing she would get out of ignoring their messages was a trip to jail.
After weeks of sleepless nights, crying, depression, and fear, Mary’s son convinced her to call our office. She truly believed that Creditors Interchange could have sent her to jail for failing to pay a personal debt. Once we assured her that that was not possible, we started the work of getting her justice under the law.
The law we used to fight on her behalf was the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (or FDCPA). The FDCPA is the law passed by Congress to protect consumers from abusive debt collectors such as Creditors Interchange Receivable Management, LLC. The FDCPA says generally that a debt collector cannot harass or abuse you, make false, misleading, or deceptive statements to you, or use unfair practices to collect from you. These protections for consumers apply whether or not you owe the debt about which the debt collector is calling.
In this case, we were able to get Mary an out of court settlement she was more than happy with, and begin the process of making her whole.
No one should have to go through what Mary went through, but if you have, you do have a remedy.