Hyattsville Debt Collection Attorney
Stopping Creditor Harassment in Silver Spring, Washington, D.C., and All of Maryland
Are you receiving endless calls from angry creditors? Are collection agencies threatening to take you to court? Are debt collectors misrepresenting what you owe or are attempting to damage your reputation by calling your employer?
No one should have to live with creditor harassment, and our Hyattsville debt collection lawyer can help you enforce your rights. We have over 20 years of legal experience and are familiar with the protections guaranteed by The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and The Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act. Our team at The Law Offices of Brian C. Williams is ready to help you fight misconduct and pursue legal action if your rights have been violated. We can also help you explore your options for overcoming debt through bankruptcy.
When you fall behind on making payments toward a debt, a creditor will typically first rely on their own internal department to attempt to collect. They will typically make phone calls and send letters requesting that you resume payments. Depending on the creditor and type of debt, you may be able to negotiate a modified installment plan or settlement.
If you are unable to reach a consensus and continue to not pay the debt, the original creditor will eventually decide it is unlikely that they will be able to collect the delinquent payments. They will typically “sell” the debt to a collection agency. Collection agencies make it their mission to pursue debtors and recover what is owed.
Because a collection agency’s sole job is to convince you to pay, they will generally resort to aggressive – and sometimes unlawful – recovery strategies. This can involve making repeated phone calls to your home and place of employment or even in-person visits. Many debtors experience various forms of creditor harassment at this stage.
If a collection agency becomes convinced that they will not be able to recover the debt – which can happen if a debtor enforces their rights – they may pursue direct legal action. When a debt becomes sufficiently delinquent, a creditor or collection agent can file a lawsuit against you and obtain a judgment. Judgments can lead to wage garnishments and liens. Depending on the type of debt, you may face other damaging collection actions, including foreclosure and repossession.
The bottom line is you cannot ignore a debt, even if you cannot afford to pay. Sooner or later, a collection agency will start calling, and you will need to take steps to address the underlying debt if you wish to avoid serious financial consequences. Our Hyattsville debt collection attorney can help you explore your options for managing creditors and resolving unpaid debts.
Enforcing Your Rights under State and Federal Law
Debtors are protected from creditor harassment under both state and federal law. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that regulates the actions and behavior of collection agencies. It is important to note that the FDCPA does not apply to a creditor’s internal collections department and only covers third-party collection agencies.
The Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (MCDCA) offers more comprehensive protection in that it regulates all debt collectors, including internal collection departments and attorneys acting on behalf of creditors. Both the FDCPA and MCDCA prohibit abusive and manipulative practices.
Under the FDCPA and MCDCA, debt collectors cannot:
- Call you repeatedly or at unusual times of the day. Debt collectors do have permission to call you. However, they cannot do so repeatedly in an effort to aggravate or intimidate you. They also cannot call you in the early morning or late at night. Generally, creditors cannot call before 8 AM or after 9 PM unless you explicitly give them permission to do so.
- Call you at work if you ask them to stop. Creditors can attempt to contact you at your place of employment, but they cannot continue to do so if you inform them that you cannot take personal calls at work.
- Use abusive language. Collection agents are not allowed to use inflammatory language or speak in a threatening tone. For example, it is unlawful for a creditor to swear at you or scream warnings through the phone.
- Disclose your debts to anyone. Debt collectors have the legal right to call your employer, neighbors, or family members for the sole purpose of trying to get in touch with you, the debtor. They cannot tell any third party that you owe a debt. In fact, they cannot even explain they are calling from a debt collection agency.
- Deliberately misrepresent what you owe or lie about their ability to take legal action. Debt collectors are legally required to be truthful in their communications. This means they cannot knowingly distort the extent of your debt or attempt to collect a debt they do not own. They also cannot fraudulently threaten legal action if they have no right to pursue legal action. This could be relevant if the statute of limitation on collections has passed or if the collection agency does not actually own the debt.
When any of these rights are violated, you can pursue legal action against the offending debt collector. Keep in mind that only MCDCA protection applies if you are dealing with the original creditor’s internal collection department or an attorney. If your lawsuit is successful, you may be able to recover damages. You can also potentially obtain compensation for emotional or mental anguish if a creditor’s misconduct is especially egregious.
You must understand that winning a lawsuit against a misbehaving creditor does not erase the underlying debt. Though you can exercise your rights and ask a creditor to stop contacting you entirely, doing so will paradoxically most likely prompt the collector to pursue their own legal action.
Filing for bankruptcy offers comprehensive protection from all collection actions, including creditor calls and lawsuits, through the automatic stay. Completing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy generally allows you to discharge all remaining unsecured debts, including your credit card debt, medical debt, personal loans, and unpaid utility bills. Once a debt has been discharged, creditors and collection agencies can no longer attempt to recover what was owed.
Our Hyattsville debt collection lawyer at The Law Office of Brian C. Williams can guide you through the bankruptcy process and represent you in legal action if your rights have been violated under the FDCPA or MCDCA. We are committed to helping our clients navigate and overcome financial difficulties, and our team is prepared to offer you the personalized and attentive representation you deserve.
During your initial consultation, Attorney Williams will explain exactly what to expect during your case.
With over 20 years of experience, Attorney Williams is well versed in the intricacies of the law.
Attorney Williams seeks to educate his clients about their rights and is attentive in answering all of their questions.