Although the economy has stopped hemorrhaging jobs, there’s still a long way to go before the country is back on its feet and everyone who wants a job has one. In fact, economies keep referring to a “jobless recovery,” which might make Wall Street feel better but does little to help Main Street.
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If you’ve been downsized, “rightsized,” or whatever term is currently in vogue, you’re likely having a hard time keeping food on the table and a roof over your head. Keeping up with payments on bills may feel like a lost cause. When you fall behind on your payments, chances are good that your account will eventually be turned over to a third-party debt collection agency. No one would argue that being subjected to debt collector calls and letters is bothersome at best and nightmarish at worst.
In the worst-case scenarios, consumers are incessantly hounded by debt collection calls, are embarrassed by collectors’ calls to neighbors and family members, and may even feel threatened. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that they have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and they’re unaware of the advantages of hiring a fair debt attorney.
Many people are under the assumption that hiring a fair debt attorney will cost them an arm and a leg. After all, if they had the money to hire a lawyer, they’d have the money to pay their debt. The truth is that legitimate fair debt attorneys will represent consumers for free. Although this might sound too good to be true, it’s not. That’s because the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is designed to give consumers equal footing with debt collection agencies, and says that, when a debt collector crosses the line into illegal behavior, the collection agency is responsible for paying the consumer’s attorney fees. In other words, your attorney will get paid – by the debt collection agency that is harassing you.
Another good reason to consult an attorney is that, once you are represented by a fair debt attorney, a debt collector can no longer contact you directly. He or she must go through your lawyer. In other words, the calls and letters will stop. If they don’t, it’s a violation of the FDCPA.
A fair debt attorney can also file suit against collection agencies in federal court. The FDCPA says that, if a debt collector violates the law, the court can award a consumer up to $1,000. That’s right – if you’re the victim of illegal debt collection practices, you can get compensation of up to $1,000.
Often, however, when your attorney files a lawsuit against an agency, the agency will want to settle the suit, and you’ll never have to go to court. Sometimes, a debt collection agency will offer to settle for a dollar amount. If the agency actually owns the debt (by buying it from the original creditor), the debt can be wiped out. A fair debt lawyer may even be able to negotiate what the agency puts on your credit report, which has far-reaching implications for your future credit needs.