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How to Deal With Debt Collectors

It’s 7pm on a Tuesday and the phone rings. You answer. The person on the line asks for verification of your name. You verify.

They explain that you owe a debt.

Maybe you forgot you had this debt.

Or maybe you have already paid this debt.

Regardless, the debt collector insists you owe and they are speaking to you with the intent to collect on that debt.

This conversation stresses you out. You begin not to answer your phone. Avoid the mail. You generally feel bad about your situation.

Debt collectors operate in a highly regulated industry. Consumers have rights that they must respect. I instruct all my clients to give debt collectors my contact information and hang up the phone. Put another way, tell the debt collector to “Talk to the hand because the face is not listing!”

Why be represented?

  1. Once debt collectors are put on notice that a person is represented, they must cease and desist all communication with that person or risk violating the Fair Debt Collection Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692.
  2. Does the debt collector actually have evidence that you owe the debt? Pursuant to 940 CMR 7.08 a debt collector must provide all evidence of a debt within 5 days after the request is made or they risks violating Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law 93(A)(9). Each violation is a $1,000 statutory penalty plus attorney’s fees. This may add up for a debt collector that acts outside the rules.
  3. A debt collector may be acting on behalf of a debt buyer, an entity that bought your debt from the original creditor. The assignment of that debt may have not been recorded correctly. This may give you grounds to avoid the debt.
  4. A Debt buyer likely bought the debt for 15% of the original balance, a payment plan or settlement can be reached if the debt is verified.
  5. If the debt is verified, a attorney can work out a payment plan that avoids litigation or a default judgement. As mentioned above, debt buyers buy the debt for much less than principal balance, hence they are often very open to accepting much less than the original balance. The key is knowing how to reach that arrangement.

If you have debt, including credit cards, mortgages, or student loans, get in contact today. We can begin to address the problem and destress your already busy life.




Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Author Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday practices law in Cambridge and Martha's Vineyard Massachusetts. He works in the areas of Real Estate, Personal Injury, and Consumer Protection Law. When not practicing law, Arthur enjoys sailing, hanging out with friends on the beach, and waking his dog "Ridiculous."

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