If you were charged with a crime, you would not dream of going it alone. Going toe to toe with a police investigator or prosecutor is a fool’s game. Everyone knows that! Most everyone also knows that once you say “I want a lawyer” the cops can no longer speak to you without your lawyer present. Most everyone knows that what you say will be held against you. Every criminal lawyer will tell you to say nothing and it does not matter if you are guilty or innocent.
The same is true in collection matters. In California the minute you tell anyone who is trying to collect money from you that you have a lawyer, THEY MUST CEASE TALKING TO YOU. That includes original creditors like Bank of America, collectors, debt buyers, and collection lawyers. And the penalties against them can be severe. The only difference is cops are collecting information to put you in jail and collectors are collecting information to take your money. Just like it’s a fool’s game to speak to the cops when you are being investigated, it is a fool’s game to speak to the collector. Make no mistake, they are both seeking information to use against you.
The law is clear that once a collector knows you are represented by a lawyer, they must cease contact with you. They cannot call you. They cannot send collection letters. They cannot send you emails. They cannot call your work. They can only speak to your lawyer. I like to call Fitzgerald Campbell the public defenders of the civil law. We protect consumers from collectors and creditors. As soon as we are retained the collector is completely frustrated. We stand as a WALL between you and the collector. The bulk of the money they collect is due to the constant pressure they apply to get you to give them money. They use emotional pleas, guilt trips and at times even illegal steps such as deceit and lies to get you to pay. If can be difficult to determine what is the truth and what isn’t. A good consumer protection lawyer will know the difference and will not only save you time and stress, but money.
FDCPA protection is not just something you get after they have violated the law (by calling you after hours, or using profanity, or threatening jail, to name a few). You can get the protection up front. Most consumers and consumer lawyers only use this very strong federal and state law AFTER the damage has been done. The law should be used proactively to stop the contact altogether. If you are represented by a lawyer and the collector unlawfully contacts you, the collector can be responsible to you for up to $1000 + actual damages + attorney fees + and costs. This is a very valuable tool for several reasons: stop annoying phones calls in their tracks. Stop collectors from calling your work. Stop collectors from sending you nasty letters. Even better, the collectors will know that you have someone on your side who knows the law, who knows their tricks, who knows what they will accept, who knows if they have any case at all.
So why don’t more people get the protection they need? Why don’t more people stop the collector and get a lawyer? The only thing I can think of is they think the protection costs too much. Well, it don’t. We represents clients starting as low as $10/mo. depending on the type of account (medical, credit card, student loan, tax, etc.). For those that qualify, we do it for free. Starting as low as $10 you can: 1) have a lawyer to answer all your questions; and 2) stop all collector contact; and 3) have the FDCPA working on your behalf BEFORE a problem arises. It’s a no brainer really. If you have a collector after you, give us a call. We can help and it won’t cost you much.
Gregory Fitzgerald, Esq.
This article is not legal advice and should not be interpreted as such. It is provided for informational purposes only. You should consult legal counsel about your specific circumstances and law before making any decisions about your legal rights and how to protect them.
Gregory M. Fitzgerald is a California licensed attorney located in Anaheim Hills CA (Bar #153082). For over 20 years he has represented consumers with a particular emphasis in consumer rights in the field of debt and debtor harassment. He is a founder of Fitzgerald Campbell, A Professional Law Corporation. He is admitted to practice before all California State Courts and all Federal District Courts within California. He is a member of the Orange County Bar Association. He formerly sat regularly as Judge Pro Tem for the Orange County Superior Court. He can be contacted at (855)709-5788, [email protected] or via the web at www.DebtorProtectors.com