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22

Oct 2016

Debt Collectors Keep Calling Me At Work

Posted by / in Before Bankruptcy, Weekly Posts /

Why do debt collectors keep calling me at work after I tell them to stop?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you from debt collectors calling your workplace.  But, if you tell them you want them to stop, the debt collectors keep calling.

How’s that?

To get them to stop calling, you need to know the right words to say.

“Don’t call me here” doesn’t work. Nether does “please don’t call me at work.” On this, debt collectors do not have to pay attention to what you want. You need to tell them your employer doesn’t allow you to take debt collector calls at work.

Here’s the right way to say it.

 

debt collectors keep calling at work

“I told you not to call me here.” Say that, and the debt collectors keep calling.

“The boss doesn’t let me take your calls at work.”  Or, “I’m not allowed to get personal business calls at work.” 

The legal authority for this is found in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCP) at 15 usc 1692c(a)(3).  It says “a debt collector may not communicate with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt—at the consumer’s place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.” 

You have to say it’s the boss—not you—who doesn’t want debt collectors calling.

What Else Works to Stop the Debt Collectors Calling?

There are three other magic word phrases that work. Two of them have to be in writing.

 “Don’t contact me any more.” On the phone, “don’t contact me  anymore” does nothing. But if you send it in writing they have to stop. That one is pretty straight forward.

“I refuse to pay.” This is another phrase where it’s easy to get the wording wrong. “I don’t know what debt you’re talking about” doesn’t help; the debt collectors keep calling. “That’s not my debt” doesn’t help. “I’m out of work and can’t pay you anything” doesn’t help either. 

To all those reasons why you are not paying, you need to add “I refuse to pay.”  Like this: “I don’t know what debt you are talking about and I refuse to pay.” The refuse to pay response, like the don’t contact me response, has to be in writing.

(One of the top FDCPA lawyers in the country, Dick Rubin, told me that sometimes telling them “I refuse to pay” can really hack off them, so instead the debt collectors keep calling. But if the debt collectors keep calling, after you put in writing that you refuse to pay, you can sue their pants off.) 

“Call my lawyer”

“Call my lawyer”—those are more magic words. “Call my lawyer” can be on the phone; it doesn’t have to be in writing. My clients often tell me that saying “call my lawyer” to pushy debt collectors can be a lot of fun. (You do have to tell them who your lawyer is. But the lawyer’s name and contact info is all you have to give them.)

This only works on debt collectors

The law assume that original creditors, like the credit card or car finance company or hospital, will be relatively polite in collecting their own debts. (They don’t want a bad reputation in the community.) But debt collector want to be known for being mean; so the law protects you against those debt collectors.  Here’s what Congress said: “Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy.” 15 USC 1692. 

When debt collectors stop calling, they can still send you court papers

Stopping the phone calls is only a temporary solution. The debts are still there. If you only have one debt that’s gone bad, maybe you can work something out. If you have lots of debt problems, maybe it’s time to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer.

Some people think bankruptcy is some kind of punishment because you can’t pay your bills. But actually, the purpose of bankruptcy is to help you. If you have honest debts that you just can’t pay, call me today. You’ll like our friendly service with a smile.

 

Nolo has this wrong. They say, “simply tell the debt collector to stop calling you at work.” That doesn’t work.

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08

Jul 2016

Debt Collector Chad Steur Law Refuses to Pay Up

Posted by / in Before Bankruptcy, Weekly Posts /

Debt Collector Chad Steur Law Refuses to Pay Up

Chad Steur Law, LLC, a debt collector, owes my client, Helen, $2280.58. So far, Steur refuses to pay up. 

Chad Steur, debt collector

Chad Steur is admitted to the practice of law in Utah and California. He hires debt collectors to collect debts in Virginia. So far, he hasn’t paid Helen’s judgment against him, here.

Before she came to see me, Helen was being harassed by a debt collector, calling for Chad Steur Law.  The collector told her he was calling from a law firm and they’d sue her if she didn’t pay up. That was a false threat, violating the FDCPA at 15 USC §1692e. (You might also call it a lie.) Chad Stuer is licensed to practice law only in Utah and California. He isn’t a lawyer in Virginia.

Frightened, Helen agree to let Steur take payments out of her bank account. Later, when she calmed down, she told them to stop. They took a payment anyway after she told them they were not allowed to. That’s another violation of 15 USC 1692e–taking an action that’s not legally allowed. (Taking money not authorized by law out of people’s bank accounts, happens fairly often with debt collectors. A very angry prosecutor might look at 18 USC §1334.)

Since he seems to be a respected lawyer, I contacted Steur last August, to see if he knew debt collectors were using his name. I didn’t get a reply. (I now see on his website that he hires debt collectors, in house and remote, to collect money using his name.)

We had a trial in March in the Courthouse in Manassas. Steur didn’t show up himself or send a Virginia lawyer–we won. The judge awarded Helen $2280.58. We’ve called and written Steur asking him to pay up. No answer so far.

(I’m primarily a bankruptcy lawyer.  But I hate it when credit bureaus and debt collectors do illegal stuff to my clients. So, for a bankruptcy lawyer, I’m quick to sue.)

 

 

 

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06

Mar 2016

Global Client Solutions Pays Us $1500.

Posted by / in Before Bankruptcy /

Global Client Solutions got $61.50 from C H and pays up $1500.

C H, like many of my bankruptcy clients, tried to “settle” her debts before talking to a bankruptcy lawyer. She paid $1,133.48 to Global Client Solutions as part of a debt settlement plan, before she realized NONE of the money was going to settle her debts.

Global Client Solutions handled the “dedicated settlement account” Credit Advocates Law Firm set up for C H. Global, in fact, handles the settlement accounts for more than 400! different debt settlement operations.

Global Client Solutions logo

The CFPB says Global Client Solutions handles the “dedicated settlement accounts” for more than 400 debt settlement outfits. According to the FTC, if the debt settlement outfits are charging illegal fees, Global can’t help but notice.

We sued Global for $3400.44–three times the money she lost, under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Global replied they had only gotten $61.50 out of that $1,133.48–claiming “the remaining $1,071.98 was assessed by Credit Advocates Law Firm.”  (We’re suing Credit Advocates, too.)  

I pointed out that the Federal Trade Commission telemarketing rule says these debt settlement “law firms” cannot charge ANY fee until they have actually settled some debts. (The fact that they do is one reason these debt settlements rarely work. So much money goes to fees, there’s no money to pay the creditors, even if they want to settle.  Which they often don’t.)

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has gone after Global, saying that since their business is handling these debt settlement accounts, and their own records show they are paying “law firms” fees that are not yet earned, they are equally guilty in violating that law.  (You can read more about that, here.)

I repeated what the CFPB said, back to Global’s legal department.  (I also pointed out that we had sued them twice before.)

Then Global came back with a check for $1500. I got $750 of that, and C H got $750.  So C H has not quite gotten all her money back. Yet.

We are suing five other outfits who had their finger prints on this deal. I hope C H will end up getting back three times what she lost–that’s what Virginia law says she should get.

PS  So who else are we suing for C H?

Credit Advocates Law Firm, LLC is the name of the outfit that was taking money out of the Global account.  Their website is gone.  (I found them, though, on the Wayback machine, here.)

Credit Advocates said they were also the Law Firm of Adela Estopinan.  Adela Estopinan seems to be licensed as a lawyer in Florida.  

The people who put C H in touch with Credit Advocates used two names.  They called themselves Cornerstone Legal; and they also called themselves Fast Track Debt Relief.  Both of those still have active websites; and Cornerstone either copied or just took over the Credit Advocates website.  (See here, the SEO title for Cornerstone is Credit Advocates?!)

Referring people from one outfit to another seems to be standard in the debt settlement world.  I guessing because they each want to claim, like Global tried, that somebody else actually got the money.

They are all due to make their first court appearance in Fairfax on April 12, 2016.  I’ll let you know who shows up.

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