Bob and Mary (fictitiuous names, of course) had a delinquent account with a major credit card company. The credit card company hired a collection agency to assist in collection of the debt. The collection agency placed a few calls to Bob and Mary, who chose not to speak with them. Undeterred, the collection agency called Bob and Mary’s neighbor and asked them to hand deliver a note to Bob and Mary. The collector asked the neighbors to write down the following message : ” This is Joe from XYZ colleciton agency. I am troubled to hear that you do not want to take my calls. We really need to settle this debt so call me back right away”. The neighbor handed the note to Bob and Mary, who fortunately called our office right away.
It is illegal for any debt collector to contact a friend, neighbor, family member or anyone at your place of employment to discuss your debt with them. (They may contact one of these third parties only to locate you, if they have made reasonable efforts at finding you that were not successful). The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) sets forth many rights that consumer or debtors have in regards to delinquent accounts and collection activities that take place as a result thereof.
My partner, Clay Morrow, contacted the collection agency right away and advised them of our representation of Bob and Mary. Clay advised that the activities were illegal and that we would be bringing a claim against them. The collection agency knew that their actions were illegal so there wasn’t much of a fight. They do these things because they know that 1) these tactics are often successful and 2) that most people will not bother to consult an attorney.
Within a matter of 10 days, Clay was able to obtain the full amount of the statutory damages ($1000) plus attorney fees for Bob and Mary. Clay was also able to settle the underlying debt with the original credit card company for a small fraction of the actual debt. Great job Clay!