new jersey | new york debt collection abuse attorney
There are times where people simply fall behind on payments to physician’s offices, credit card companies, mortgage lenders and utility companies. Unforeseen circumstances or unexpected life events can make even the most financially prudent fail to make monthly payments on their debts. When this occurs, debtors may face unscrupulous, manipulative, and fraudulent tactics of creditors and debt collection agencies. In some cases, these actions will rise to debt collection abuse. You have the legal right to remain free from exploitation and harassment from your creditors or debt collectors, even if the debt you owe is a valid one. Learn more about your legal rights with respect to your obligations, and what debt collectors may not legally do to collect on what you owe.
Debt Collection Abuse Laws
There are federal laws that provide protection for consumers from debt collection abuse and harassment and provide remedies for consumers when these laws are violated by creditors and debt collectors.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that establishes limits and regulates the interactions that debt collectors and creditors are allowed to have with consumers.
The FDCPA provides your protection against unfair practices. These actions may include threatening to take your property, trying to collect interest or fees not allowed by law and depositing a check earlier than the written date.
This mandate also covers harassment and false statements. For example, a debt collector cannot pretend to be a government representative. They cannot claim that you owe more than you do or threaten arrest and indicate that you’ve committed a crime when you have not. The law prohibits them from talking to others about your debt.
If you are a victim of illegal harassment and debt collection abuse, you also have the right to sue these creditors and debt collectors. Our attorneys can specify which areas of the law the debt collector broke and seek remedies under the FDCPA for both monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is also a federal law that protects consumers from receiving certain types of phone calls, text messages and faxes that are related to their debts. Specifically, the TCPA establishes rules requiring companies to maintain lists of consumers who have requested no phone call contact. It also limits robocalls and has strict transparency requirements for the company’s name and phone number. If a creditor or debt collector fails to follow these regulations, they can receive fines of up to $1,500 per call.
New Jersey Laws
New Jersey law follows the FDCPA closely to protect you against abuse from debt collectors. The state also sets the statute of limitations for debt, which is how long a collector has to legally collect on an obligation. The time limit is set for each type of debt; for example, credit card debt is six years.
With offices in both Greater New Jersey and Greater New York, the Schmierer Law Group will check the statute of limitations on your debt to ensure it is still active. If it is not, then the debt collector cannot take you to court or employ other legal actions against you to make you pay the debt.
The state also provides you protection from collection through wage garnishment. A debt collector must have a judgment from a court to collect on debts through this method. New Jersey law limits them to 10% of your gross pay and has special limits for low-wage earners. It also allows you to object or fight a garnishment before it happens.
If you have a spouse, you also receive protection from his or her obligations under state law. Collectors cannot go after you for your spouse’s debts or vice versa. Each person has individual responsibility for their own debts. One exception is when the debt comes from supporting the household, such as using a credit card to pay the mortgage. This would be a debt for which you both hold liability.
Types of Debt Collector Abuse
While debt collector abuse can appear in many ways, the following are some examples of harassment, abuse, scams, and violations of the law that would trigger a complaint against a creditor or collection agency.
- Harassment including non-stop phone calls, calls to family or friends, repeated calls with no messages, calling and hanging up, using social media to contact a debtor, using automatic-dialers, or visiting with a consumer in a threatening, embarrassing, rude, or argumentative way
- Attempting to collect a debt that is not owed by a consumer, or attempting to collect more than is owed by the consumer
- Contacting a debtor at work in violation of the law
- Contacting third parties without the express permission of the debtor
- Contacting a debtor after receiving specific written notice to stop contacting the debtor
- Contacting a debtor after receiving a “cease and desist” letter
- Contacting a debtor after the debtor has hired legal counsel to represent them in the matter
- Contacting a debtor and failing to identify themselves as a creditor or debt collector
- Any threats or threatening language used by a creditor or debt collection agency
New Jersey considers threats made by creditors to be so serious that legal action can include criminal prosecution.
Your Rights Under the Law
The attorneys at the Schmierer Law Group can help you to understand the rights you have as a consumer when it comes to debt collection. There are limits placed on debt collectors to prevent harassment and fraud.
Under collection laws, you have the right to a written notice providing information about the debt, including who you owe and how much you owe. Any debt collector who contacts you must provide this to you within five days after you request it during the first contact made.
You have the right to ask a debt collector not to call you anymore. You must do this by sending the company a written letter by certified mail that states you want no further contact. The collection company then can only call you if it is informing you it will take a specific action against you or to confirm it will no longer contact you.
If you choose to hire a lawyer in the Greater New York area to represent you in the matter, debt collectors must deal directly with your attorney and cannot contact you anymore. This can help you to avoid the irritating calls and other actions a company may take to try to violate your rights.
Learn How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
Learn how the experienced team at the Schmierer Law Group can help you with any debt collection abuse issue you have experienced. We can help ensure that your legal rights remain protected. Get in touch with us today!