UPDATE 6/5 I've come back and answered most of the questions I missed from yesterday and today. Thank you for your patience. I'll be sure to check in again if there are any more questions.

UPDATE 6/4 Done for the day. Thank you for your excellent questions and making our first AMA so great. If you still have questions for us, visit CreditLaw.com or email me at [email protected].

My name is Craig Thor Kimmel, consumer attorney and founding partner at Kimmel & Silverman.

Since 1989, I’ve devoted my practice solely to consumer claims, primarily Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) and Automobile Warranty “Lemon Law” claims. If you’ve been to LemonLaw.com, CreditLaw.com, UnfairlyFired.com, or WheresMyPay.com, you’ve been to one of our websites!

Kimmel & Silverman is the largest and most successful consumer law firm in the Northeast United States. We have office locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, and Ohio, but represent consumers throughout the nation.

I’m here today to help shed some light on your state and federal rights as a consumer. I’m happy to answer your questions about consumer law, including anything you'd like to ask about debt collection harassment and continuous cellphone calls from collectors and solicitors.

Learn more about me and my work as an attorney: http://www.creditlaw.com/about/our-team

When asking a legal question, please include your state of residence with your question. Laws can vary from state to state; I can provide you with a more complete answer if I know the state in which you reside.

I’ll be available to answer your questions starting at 11:00 am (Eastern Time).

My Proof:

Before you ask your question, please know that:

  • All advice is informational purposes only and should not be considered final or official advice.

  • Submitting an inquiry does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and our firm or any of its attorneys. Cases are individually evaluated prior to acceptance and representation terms are always set forth in writing first.

Comments: 219 • Responses: 59  • Date: 

YaketyMax107 karma

Wouldn't it have been cool for you guys if Jimmy Kimmel ended up marrying Sarah Silverman?

1800NotFair73 karma

We actually did a story as a joke several years ago indicating that Kimmel & Silverman had NOT broken up. Thank you for your interest.

Gohagan55 karma

So your middle name is Thor? I would just go by my middle name if I were you. That advice is free.

1800NotFair86 karma

My parents found it easier to spell than "Iron Man".

Vagfilla42 karma

My home phone keeps getting calls for debts rung up by my stepson and his ex-wife who have moved out long ago. I've asked the ones who answer when I pick up not to call but they still do. Sometimes they don't speak when I answer, they just have a recording. How do I stop these calls?

1800NotFair73 karma

You may need a lawyer. The good news is that representation is free. The types of calls you're speaking about come under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You may be entitled to as much as $1,000 from each caller, plus legal fees paid. Plus, the calls will stop as soon as the caller is notified that you're represented by legal counsel.

Vagfilla7 karma

Thank you.

1800NotFair7 karma

You are welcome.

C41n38 karma

I have heard that a creditor can remove an item from your credit report as if it were never there. Not just paid. What is the best strategy to negotiate this along with a payment? What percent of the debt is expected to get them to agree to this?

1800NotFair30 karma

Most creditors and debt collectors will not negotiate unless the debt is in default. If you are current on your bills, you will be unsuccessful in having them agree to accept less. If in default, typically you need to put enough money aside before you will be able to settle what's being claimed. That's where most people have difficulty, because they do not have money put aside to settle the debt. If you are uncertain that you owe the debt or are uncertain of the amount, you should first seek validation of the debt in writing from a creditor. If you dispute any action of what is claimed, you should file a dispute on your credit report.

If you pay a debt to a debt collector in satisfaction of a claim, you always want them to delete the trade line on your credit report. You should tell the so in writing as a condition of payment. It will take 10-12 weeks, but it will come off.

The percentage discount that you can expect in settling a debt is based upon several factors. If the debt was resold to a third party, it was sold at a discount, meaning the face value of the debt was not paid to acquire it. That affords you more opportunity to negotiate the repayment amount. This varies from debt to debt. If the debt is outside the statute of limitations, never offer anything, no matter what you are told. If you are unsure of the statute of limitations, pay nothing until you consult with an attorney and find out.

abefroman1234 karma

I know it will vary by state to state, but can you give a rough estimate of the statute of limitations? Closer to 2 or 7?

1800NotFair11 karma

With 50 states, my response would be a 1 in 50 guess. Can you please indicate what state you live in?

Thatbul4 karma

What would it be for PA?

1800NotFair4 karma

Four years.

C41n3 karma

Thank you for your answers.

1800NotFair8 karma

You're welcome.

NapTownJake15 karma

Recently my wife and I started getting harassing phone calls from someone clamming to be debt collector, and threatening warrants and jail time unless we paid up while on the phone. Growing up in a household where getting collection calls were not uncommon it's kind of freaking her out.

We know that this is a scam, and told the so called agency to stop calling us. However it seems like the call every day with another threat, and it is getting kind of annoying. Is there a legal group that you know of that we could talk to take of this? I ask because they keep claiming to be debt collectors.

1800NotFair31 karma

The answer to your question is that few attorneys would be interested in helping, because the caller is so clearly making an illegitimate claim of being a debt collector. What you should do is contact your phone carrier to determine how you can block calls from this number. If it's a cellphone you can use the phone's software to block the call

billnormandin14 karma

I have been trying to get copies of my credit reports from various agencies lately and their verification process has included questions about accounts I had in the past.

In every case, I have been denied for not being able to verify a mortgage account - but I've never had a mortgage. My credit is poor for various reasons so I feel like I am not a likely identity theft victim, but after attempting several times without any success in actually verifying, I am beginning to think perhaps there are accounts that are not mine being reported.

In the case that there is a mortgage or some other account that is erroneously or fraudulently attached to my name, how difficult a battle should I expect in getting it cleared up? I have heard horror stories about mortgages specifically in this context.

1800NotFair8 karma

Before you can answer any of those questions, you should get a copy of your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. It's free and will give you some of the answers you're looking for.

billnormandin14 karma

This is one of the places where I was denied access due to not being able to verify, and a mortgage was mentioned in each of the three credit report requests - I will submit a paper request and wait for the snail mail.

1800NotFair6 karma

That's a good idea.

C41n13 karma

I have some items on my credit report that have been sold to debt collectors. I would like to arrange paying them. The problem is I have no idea how to contact these agencies. How does one go about finding correct contact info?

1800NotFair21 karma

Get a copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com, which is a very thorough, free service. The names and addresses of all creditors will be listed.

Before paying anybody, make sure that you have all the information necessary to know that you owe the money and the amount requested before paying anything. Debt collectors and creditors often make many mistakes in their own favor, or have confused people with others of the same name.

CapDec10 karma

Craig - thanks for making yourself available for an AMA. I have private student loan debt, which is now in the 40,000 range thanks to interest and my inability to pay during and after the recession (I defaulted during the recession). I have spoken with the collections agencies now attached to the debt. One offered a settlement which was half the loan amount (very generous) the other is more typical in terms of how folks report that collections agencies act.

Obviously my credit is not in good shape because of these defaults. I have tried to get a loan to pay off at least the settlement, but again due to my credit - it's always a no go. My wife and I rent an apartment and paid for our cars with cash and family help - so we really have no assets. We recently started working by a very stringent budget (not that we were big spenders anyway) and there is simply no extra money to put towards these debts - we pretty much break even every month.

It's killing me to have this hanging over my head and feeling like it will never go away, and that our future will be forever impacted. It's not like I haven't explored every option to pay that I could. I am anticipating a lawsuit at some point. What should I do/expect?

1800NotFair10 karma

As circumstances explain your inability to pay, there really is nothing else to do other than wait and see what happens. If sued, seek out qualified counsel who can advise you on how to best respond.

caross9 karma

We've had a recent rash of calls asking for a person that does not, and has never lived at the address. Clearly someone made up a phone number, and people are trying to collect a debt. The won't give me any of their information at all.

They call at very random times of the day. Both of us work, so we don't always know when they happen, but when one of us is working from home, there are days when we will get one call at 7a, then 12p, 3p, 7p, 9p, and 11p. Each time I calmly respond that the person does not, and has never lived there.

One time when I got mad, they just called back 5 minutes later.

Is there ANYTHING I can do? I've taken to blocking their numbers, but they change their caller ID.

1800NotFair10 karma

If you give a consumer lawyer this information along with the telephone number of the caller from Caller ID, action to stop the calls is possible. If the number goes to a known debt collector (experienced FDCPA lawyers will know), a simple letter of representation to the caller will stop calls for good.

mybigfatgrowingboner8 karma

Hi, what are my responsibilities when contacted by a debt collector?

I have one that keeps calling me, and saying that I owe money to a company. I have paid the company, on time and over 2 years ago. I even proved directly to the company that I had paid them 1.5 years ago, when they bothered me about this the last time.

I have been contacted by a debt collector, and told them that this was paid, and has been proved paid already and not to contact me. But they keep calling back, keep bothering me. Daily.

They say that until I prove to them that I have paid this bill that I am legally obligated to pay it.

If they ding my credit (my report does not show any such ding to date, and hovers around 760-800), do I have recourse? Or are they correct in saying I have to prove that I already paid this. Again.

1800NotFair14 karma

Tell them that you dispute the debt as having been paid years ago and to stop calling you immediately. If further calls are received, you should definitely seek legal representation, as you would have a very good claim for harassment as well as other violations.

idlewild1307 karma

What are some of the most frequent debt collector violators?

1800NotFair14 karma

Typically, the size of the debt collector is related to the freqency of violations, although that's not always the case. Mentioning any specific company without a reason to do so would not be appropriate in this forum.

sealfon6 karma

Law student here. My question is general about practicing law. What are some tips for young lawyers in their first few years of practice? Obviously the practice of law and school are entirely different, what are some tips for successfully making that transition?

1800NotFair13 karma

Consider the first few years of your legal career to be a learning opportunity in the same way as your last three years at law school. Be prepared to work hard and learn by doing. Often, you will struggle, but through the struggle you will learn to be a better lawyer and succeed. Good luck!

tensam5 karma


I've worked with a similar agency before to sue a debt collector who was using harassment techniques to try and get things out of me. I appreciate what consumer lawyers like your company do.

Recently, I've been receiving a lot of robo-calls from companies who make absurd claims of debt cancellation or forgiveness. Is there anyway to stop these calls other than blocking the number? I'm guessing these are not debt collectors themselves.

1800NotFair7 karma

If you're understanding of who's calling you is correct, you should definitely track all the calls made and contact a consumer lawyer immediately, as each call could be worth between $500 and $1,500 under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), especially if the calls were made to your cellphone.

tensam3 karma

Thanks for the response!

Unfortunately a Google search on the number just returns similar complaints and no company name. The calls were in fact made to my cell phone. I have several of them saved in my voicemails, if that would help at all.

1800NotFair4 karma

It could be that the caller is spoofing their caller ID, as you seem to indicate with your findings on Google. In that circumstance, it's quite unlikely that we would ever be able to locate the caller, and more likely that they lack sufficient resources to pay a civil judgment. I suggest you just block the number.

brackmania5 karma

What is considered crossing the line for a debt collector? i.e. that would make the court acknowledge the activity as "harassment" versus just "calling to try and get their money back"

1800NotFair4 karma

That’s a hard one to quantify. I tell clients that if the debt collector has been uncivil, misleading, abusive, harassing, or persists in actions which are contrary to what he/she is being told, it is likely an FDCPA violation. However, there are certainly occasions when the perceived wrong does not rise to such a level. That is why each case has to be analyzed on its own.

Miniboon4 karma

(New York) Just received a collections notice for a 4 year old ER visit. I paid at time of service and had health insurance. The hospital no longer has any record of my bill because of how much time has passed, they said it may have been a separate bill from the ER doctor who may (or may not) have been out if network. I know if I had received this bill 4 years ago I would have paid it, or fought my insurance to make them pay, so I am confident this was never actually sent to me. The complicating factor is that the debt collection company spelled my name wrong on the letter they sent me. They offered in the letter to settle for half price.

Am I liable for a 4 year old bill that I never knew about that nobody can even produce, especially if the name on the supposed debt is not technically mine?

1800NotFair9 karma

What you should do is seek validation of the debt by making a written request for validation, providing no financial or other information to the debt collector. Also, notify them that you dispute the debt and that you believe it to have been paid. If they persist in collection, they can only do so after having responded to your validation request. At that time, I would recommend that you do nothing further until or unless they file suit, as you don not have reason to believe that you owe this money.

iamnotgoodwithtech4 karma

Who's your favorite TV Lawyer / Attorney and why is it Harvey Birdman? Also, who would you Marry-Fuck-Kill out of this list of TV lawyers/attorneys: Perry Mason, Matlock and Saul Goodman

1800NotFair23 karma

That is a question I have certainly not been asked before, and I’ll just pretend that I still haven’t.

Rommel794 karma

I had a debt collector contact me trying to reach a friend of mine. They told me exactly how long it had been since he'd made a payment on his car and approximately how much he owes. If I gave him evidence of this conversation, what could he do with it?

Edit - They also threatened to call the cops on him and report the car as stolen. I don't know if they can do that or not.

1800NotFair11 karma

Your friend has a claim for sharing personal information without permission, and you may have a claim for being contacted by a debt collector seeking information other than location information. Call an attorney; you both may have claims.

Rommel794 karma

Good deal. I suggested that to him, but I don't believe he ever acted on it. They've stopped contacting me, so I'll just leave it alone. Thanks for the info.

1800NotFair4 karma

You're welcome.

laidbackpk4 karma

Do you know anything about how the new pay-pal robo-calling term and how it might interact with debt collection. Is it just a case of freedom to contract and if you don't like it then you stop using pay-pal, or is pay-pal such an ingrained part of commerce that they cannot use that disproportionate power position to dominate over consumers wishing to use their service?

1800NotFair6 karma

The caselaw for TCPA calls (robo-calls) to a cell phone continues to develop. A growing number of jurisdictions recognize a consumer’s right to revoke consent to call. PayPal cannot take that right from a consumer, though it can cancel the consumer’s PayPal account if it so desires, just like any other business or credit card can.

iamacannibal3 karma

I have a debt with Comcast because they kept billing after I canceled and i didnt notice until it went to collections. It was about $900 but they dropped it to $600 but it shouldn't even be that.

This was 2010ish and has been in collections. It has changed collections agencies like 5 or 6 times I think.

Anyway, is there any recourse I have? I don't have any proof I called and canceled in good standing but I did. They say I didn't and kept billing me for 6 months then just stopped because I wasn't paying but never sent any bills or anything.

1800NotFair2 karma

An experienced consumer lawyer can help you. The name of the debt collector is important to furnish the lawyer, as the account likely was sent out for collections by Comcast when it went into default.

noodle-face3 karma

I purchased a house last year and got Comcast setup for the phone (along with tv/internet). After around 1 month, after setting everything up with our new phone number, we started receiving debt collection calls all day long for a person that must've previously owned the phone number.

Sometimes I'll pick up the phone and ask them not to call this number anymore, some agree, some get verbally abusive demanding I tell them where this person lives. I can't tell if any of this works as we're still getting tons of phone calls everyday.

Is my only solution to have my phone number changed?

1800NotFair3 karma

No. If you can identify the phone numbers calling you, an attorney can stop the calls and likely recoever a cash settlement for you being bother. it absolutely does not pay you to change your phone number.

noodle-face2 karma

What steps should I follow here? Get a log of all of the phone calls I receive, pointing out the harassing ones, and give them to a lawyer?

1800NotFair3 karma

Ideally, yes, plus any voicemail recordings that you have of callers. If you want, you can track future calls by keeping a notebook or by writing down your caller ID logs on a regular basis. It depends on who's calling and how they called you, whether it was with an auto-dialer or some other method.

cosmovern713 karma

I received a call from a "creditor" that alleged they were trying to serve me papers. When I called them back they couldn't spell my name correctly and dodged my questions about the supposed debt. It had scam written all over it. Do I have any legal recourse? (this was a couple of months ago and I don't have the company name on hand, at the moment)

1800NotFair6 karma

Thieves and criminals typically leave no footprints, making it nearly impossible to find them. You just may want to block the incoming call so that you get no others.

twiddlingbits3 karma

I keep getting calls from an agency on a 15 yr old debt that was never mine to begin with. I have blocked the numbers they use but there is always a new one. The debt is not on my credit report and never was so what are they trying to do? Do I have legal options? What about things like attempts to collect on a broken lease, my daughter has one of those and a law firm who also works as collection agents keeps sending threatening letters. She asked for proof of debt and no response.

1800NotFair4 karma

You need not accept or participate in calls regarding a 15-year-old debt, as long as no judgment was obtained. Send the phone number to an experienced consumer lawyer who can verify the caller and take appropriate action on your behalf. If the caller is a legitimate company, action can be taken and likely a cash settlement secured, without legal fee or cost to you.

armyml3 karma

I foolishly cosigned on a student loan from Sallie Mae for my now ex wife. I put in my divorce decree that she has to pay it and I'm not responsible. She has not paid so they are pursuing me. Is my only course of action to pay it off then sue her for breach of contract? Or is there anyway to not be liable for the debt without going through all that?

1800NotFair1 karma

You are correct. Unless the Department of Education allowed you to remove your name at the time of the divorce settlement, you are equally responsible as your wife is. Paying the debt will keep your credit from being damaged, and then seeking payment from your ex-wife is the only feasible solution.

MiseryEngine3 karma

Hi Craig,

I used to work for the largest Debt Collection Law firm in NJ. (Not naming names) I voluntarily left them years ago because I found their practices to be too aggressive.

Now I find myself on the other side of the coin. I have a few thousand dollars in medical debt, and they have begun to move against me. I know they wont be able to set up a payment plan I can live with.

Do I have any recourse other then try to protect my assets and send them what money I can?

1800NotFair3 karma

New Jersey is a tough state if you owe money. Other than verifying that the amount sought is correct and within the statute of limitations, your best bet may be to wait to be sued, defend, and see what happens. Until then, you should put a little money away each month in hopes that, by the time the case is heard, you have saved enough to satisfy it.

Kabtiz3 karma

I opened a cell phone line about 4 years ago and am still getting calls from collection agencies looking for the previous owner of the number. How do I really stop them from continuously calling? The problem is, its always a new collection agency calling to ask for the person and I have to tell them every time that they have the wrong number.

1800NotFair2 karma

Retain counsel who can notify the caller(s) of representation. A debt collector is required by law to cease calling once it knows the consumer to be represented. That will stop the calls and likely lead to payment of penalties to you from the debt collector(s). Calls will stop, you will be paid for the inconvenience.

idlewild1303 karma

How much can I sue for from a debt collector?

1800NotFair5 karma

There's two types of damages:

Statutory damages that max out at $1,000.

You can also you can recover actual damages that incurred as result of a debt collector's conduct. This amount is unlimited. Of course, all legal fees are paid by the debt collector.

idlewild1302 karma

I am in collections from AMEX - not sure of the collection agency. Is Nationwide Debt Collector the agency?

1800NotFair3 karma

It very well could be. They collect a lot of debt for credit card companies.

dswpro2 karma

couple questions that always seem to come up in the personal finance sub reddit I would like to hear your opinion on:

What constitutes creditor harassment, and if you are feeling harassed, what evidence should you collect to prove as much?

When paying a collection agency , what is the best form of payment to use to make sure they don't come back later and say you haven't paid?

1800NotFair5 karma

There's an important distinction between a debt collector and a creditor. Under the FDCPA, only debt collector actions can be considered violations of law. In some states, creditor harassment may also be a violation of law, but never under the FDCPA. The test to determine which type of entity is calling you is whether or not your debt is just in default or delinquent. It is in default if payment is due or not made, but is charged off or sold. If the entity calling you is a third party (i.e., not the party that loaned the money to you) the FDCPA applies.

Get, in writing, a statement of what is owed and what forms of payment are accepted before making a payment. I never recommend payment by phone, and I never recommend giving a collector access to your credit card or bank account. Only pay when you are satisfied with what you owe and see it in writing. Never confirm sensitive information, such as your Social Security Number, over the phone.

jenn181152 karma

In today's economy, what are the chances of being sued for an upaid credit card debt that, as the date of it's first delinquent notice, totaled about $5k? I understand if they do not sue within the statute of limitations for your state, they lost their chance? Is it wise to take this risk today or for that amount? My state is Florida, the bank is Chase.

1800NotFair3 karma

It depends on whether you are interested in retaining a good credit score and/or have the funds available to pay. That's a decision only you can make. Typically, debt collectors will sue for any amount above $1,000, sometimes less, but a $5,000 account will likely result in a lawsuit if the debt collector or creditor believes you have resources sufficient to pay.

alex0613972 karma

My father is used to be a debt collecter, he was sued so many times, Is this common for debt collection agencies?

1800NotFair4 karma

More now than ever. It's a part of business for debt collectors.

koalapants2 karma

I have a private student loan that has gone into default, about $3,000. I'm sure I could get some kind of claim because of the phone calls, but I'm not too worried about that.

Generally, how long does it take for a company like that to sue you?

Any tips for how I can get the debt sorted out? Would I just have to save up the money in one sum to pay it off?

1800NotFair2 karma

To get the debt sorted out as you say, would appear to require coming up with a payment plan with the debt collector. I do suggest you consult with legal counsel to determine whether the collector has violated your FDPCA rights, which could cause the collector and its client to be more agreeable about payment terms that are favorable to you.

dirrty_302 karma

What do you recommend aspiring lawyer/ pre-law students do to strengthen their law scool aplications?

1800NotFair2 karma

Take the time to earn good grades as an undergraduate, volunteer for community service organizations in your community, become multilingual, ace the LSAT.

Pongpianskul2 karma

Can I have my 20-year old credit card debts expunged?

1800NotFair1 karma

You can effectively dispute credit card debts on a credit report that are older than 7 years, if a judgment has never been secured.

3kindsofsalt2 karma

Can I settle a debt under Maritime Law?

1800NotFair1 karma

Maritime law pertains to claims related to events at Sea. Debt settlement is not applicable to an event at Sea.

pezzshnitsol2 karma

How would you recommend relieving debt without ruining your credit. I am a student and last year both my parents lost their jobs. They didn't have a whole lot of savings and long story short I used my credit cards to help them out. The only negative marks on my credit right now is my credit utilization, my cards are practically maxed out, but I've never missed a payment or anything.

So now I have about $3,000 in credit card debt, and would like some relief but don't want to damage my credit. Any recommendations, or do you just deal with debts after they've gone to collections?

1800NotFair1 karma

If your parents would be agreeable, ask them to take a home equity loan out for the $3,000 and let you pay off your credit cards with the money. The interest on a home equity loan is tax deductible and you could arrange payments with them or make them to their bank at market interest rates, which are a small percentage of what credit card banks charge each month.

yorkton2 karma

I'm not going to lie, I thought this was an AMA for Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman who were promoting their new sitcom about debt collection.

But anyway time for the hard hitting question what's the story behind your very badass middle name Thor?

1800NotFair2 karma

Funny you should ask. I am from Asgard. I carry a large and devastatingly powerful hammer that is only used for justice.

JudgeGian1 karma

What's being a lawyer in the current climate like?

I'm from the UK and I'm about to start my degree and I do enjoy legal work but I'm not sure if I prefer it to something like psychology, I just like it because it tests me mentally. Any advice?

1800NotFair4 karma

Most lawyers would wish you luck in pursuing your psychology degree.

Wobistdu991 karma

Student loan debt question.

My nephew had around $12,000 in defaulted student loan debt. The loans were not private loans, but regular government guaranteed loans through the university - University of California.

Now ten years later the amount due is much higher with all kinds of interest, fees, etc. as it is being collected by some private collection company (I assume).

In terms of negotiating that student loan debt down, is there a strategy to discount and pay defaulted student loan debt that is being collected by a private party.

Can the principal, fees, interest, etc be negotiated like other debts?

Thanks for all your hard work.

1800NotFair2 karma

It depends on the nature of the loan and the debt collector, but in most circumstances, such debts can not be waived or reduced, as they are sponsored and backed by the US Treasury. The government will get paid through garnishment of wages and other available options.

incandecence1 karma

Are you familiar with and do you used the Notarial Process? Have you ever offset accounts/debts with private negotiable instruments?

1800NotFair2 karma

I'm sorry, but I'm unfamiliar with what you're speaking of.

PortableFreakshow1 karma

I have some outstanding medical debt. Collectively almost a quarter of a million dollars. I'm sure some of it will be written off by the hospitals. There are a couple of debt collectors that are calling me for a several thousand each (in the teens). Too much to pay, but not enough to be laughable. My questions are -

  1. There is a law firm commercial that says that can get $1500 per unwanted phone call.

  2. What can I expect to happen? They file suit, then garnishment?

1800NotFair2 karma

You're asking a lot of different questions which require additional background information to answer properly.

In this space, all I can say is that if your cellphone number was giving to a hospital to contact you, calls are permissible under the TCPA, which is the call violation statue you referenced earlier.

If you revoke consent, they may not call you any longer, and if a debt collector is told to stop calling you, they are required to stop calling you.

I would like to help you answer these questions, but without more information, it would be unfair to you to give a general answer.

seneschall-1 karma

Can I sue the guy in Tennessee that keeps ending up on MY credit report? I don't owe child support. As a matter of fact, my son is in the next room playing with his Duplo blocks.

2nd, if not, who do I need to talk to to get someone to straighten that out? This'll be the 3rd year in a row I have to request stuff to be REMOVED from my credit report.

and 3rd, just because my father's place is listed as my permanent residence (I actually live overseas & have for 14 years, hence why I actually don't HAVE any debt in the US), can HE do anything to stop these fraud calls?

1800NotFair1 karma

I am uncertain if you are saying a third person with your name is being confused as you or not. If this is a case of misidentification or confusion, you can and should dispute the entry on your credit report, in the manner specifically called for by each credit reporting agency you see the entry listed.

If your father is receiving calls for you at his phone number/house and has instructed the collectors to stop calling and/or has told them you are not in residence, then he has a claim. If they disclose their identity or nature of the call to him and you have not authorized it, you may have a claim against the debt collectors(s) for unauthorized disclosure. You should immediately contact an experienced FDCPA consumer lawyer. All fees and costs are by law paid by the debt collector so you should be represented without charge.

ReignForever1 karma

I have a private (not federal) student loan that's been following me for years with Sallie Mae (now Navient). I've been ignoring it. I know for a fact the statute of limitations has expired, as my last payment and activity on it was in 2004 and the loan was in Louisiana (statute of 10 years). Its not even listed on my credit report (I checked today).

This loan has been sold and bounced around more times than I can count. I always ignore or hang up on the calls and shred the mails. Seems like every few months its with some new entity.

I'm honestly tired of it. I'm correct in thinking that no one, no matter who buys the debt, has any legal recourse to pursue me other than asking me to pay it right? I want to get to the point where I don't hear about this debt ever again. If I send Navient a cease contact letter, stating that I have no obligation to the debt, I know I should expect them to comply. My other question is, if they sell the debt again and its with a new entity, will have to expect to send them a cease contact too? Will the cycle continue forever?

1800NotFair1 karma

By virtue of similar complaints across the country, many states now forbid collection of stale debt at all, and others require very clear disclosures to do so. The FDCPA in large part tracks consistently with this scenario. A consumer attorney who is experienced with FDPCA matters would be very glad to accept a case such as this, as long as the debt buyer and/or debt collector is a viable financial entity with resources. Remember, you should never pay for legal help when pursuing an FDCPA case, as the law requires debt collectors to pay all fees and costs.

a_white_rabbit1 karma

How do collections accounts from gym memberships, cell phone companies or non-back lenders differ from actual bank creditors? Are they more easier or difficult to resolve?

1800NotFair1 karma

There is no rule that would apply uniformly. If you are asking whether the gym, cell phone or non-bank lenders/creditors would sue for small debts, the answer is typically yes.

thedukeofaz1 karma

AZ - My wife had a Chase car repo around 6-8 years ago, they hadn't tried to collect, it was a voluntary repo. We got a tax bill from the IRS that (sorry if I'm not getting this lingo right) Chase had forgiven the debt and because of that the $6k was considered income, and that we owed $1k in taxes. I guess my question is, can they do that? If not, how can we fight it?

1800NotFair1 karma

I am not a tax lawyer and do not intend to give tax advice. This response is for information only related to a legal question. If the loan was in her name, the notices are legitimately from the IRS (Form 1099 income benefit) and your wife never disputed the balance, the amount of the forgiven debt would be taxable as if it were income received. The amount due would be the amount forgiven multiplied by your tax rate.

BigFletch1 karma

My girlfriend recently purchased $300 of hair straighteners/curlers/creams from a kiosk at the mall. A lady approached her and sweet talked her into buying the stuff and she regrets it now. The receipt says no refunds but I researched into the FTC's "cooling down" period and was wondering if this applies? Thanks!

1800NotFair1 karma

The FTC cooling down period speaks largely to sales occurring in the buyer’s home, such as cosmetics, vacuum cleaners and the like. Retail kiosk sales would not qualify. If the disclaimer of “no refunds” was not conspicuously displayed at the Kiosk or on a sales receipt, it might be unenforceable and permit your girlfriend to receive a refund. That should be investigated further.

BigFletch1 karma

Cooling down applies to temporary businesses as well, if I'm not mistaken. I'm pretty sure that the contract to rent the kiosk is a temporary and tentative contract. Would the FTC law apply? Or would they not be considered a temporary business?


1800NotFair1 karma

You may be correct, but I am unaware of the provision of law you refer to. Also, even if you are correct, I suspect a kiosk would not qualify as a temporary business if it retains the same location day in and day out, as opposed to a flea market or something similar.

codemehardandfaster1 karma

Hey, thanks for doing this.

I've been served papers for a medical debt in which I have no possible way to pay.

I tried calling the attorney but they will only do a three pay plan and nothing else.

I'm the sole income of a family of six and we barely scrape by. If they garnish my wages, which they plan to if they win the judgment, I'll have trouble paying for rent and food. Is there anyway to fight this?

Any suggestions?

Edit: in Nebraska.

1800NotFair1 karma

If you have not yet been sued for the debt, stop communicating with the lawyer and consult with a consumer attorney who handles FDCPA cases. There may be several options open to you, depending upon how much is owed, your current income and job status, your dependents, the age of the debt, and/or the proof (or lack thereof) of the amount claimed by the lawyer as being owed.

Remember, you should never pay an attorney for this type of representation, as fees and costs are recoverable from the debt collector. Either way, you can buy yourself time by saying nothing and not responding, as the attorney will have to prepare suit, serve, and wait for the hearing date. Your story may be compelling to the court and/or the attorney may not have sufficient proof of the debt he claims is owed. That's not to say you dispute owing it; only that the attorney must meet his burden of proof in establishing the right to seek money, and if so, how much, from the consumer in every case.

Many debt collector lawyers don't have this proof and try to bluff their way into getting the consumer to admit everything for them. If you don't, you make their job much harder, but are entirely within your rights to do so.

knights0331 karma

I am in Florida. I have a medical bill from a year ago for $1000 that went to collections. I just set up a payment plan to start paying toward it. I also have bills out for around $3000 from 6 months ago but are still being processed by insurance. Two questions: 1) How long do I have from the time I receive a medical bill to pay it before they send the bill to a collections agency? I got a collections letter from one company only 1 1/2 weeks after getting the bill. 2) Can having these bills affect my credit? I want to rent a house with a couple other people in a couple months. Will this affect what landlords see?

1800NotFair1 karma

There is no hard and fast rule, but typically, 90 days is seen as the cut off before the delinquent debt becomes defaulted debt, unless the contract for services/goods says otherwise. If you see an item on your credit report, follow the instructions of that specific credit reporting agency and make a written dispute indicating that the charge was sent to an insurance company for payment and is pending. Of course, first make certain that the insurance company is intending to pay it and keep copies of all communications in case you later need them.

MuffinMopper1 karma

I have student debt, and I have been paying it off in the normal fashion (making the monthly payment with usually a bit extra). Am I a sucker? Am I missing out on free money by doing this?

1800NotFair8 karma

Paying student debt is a necessary obligation, especially if the loan was backed by the Department of the Treasury. You always want to pay off loans of this sort as soon as possible. To overpay is one method, but if you own a house and can pay off the entire debt by obtaining a home equity loan, you would benefit on several fronts: (1) the home equity loan is tax deductible; (2) the interest rate on a home equity loan will be much lower in the current market of interest rates charged than the student loan; and (3) you will not be subject to the same collection methods that the US Treasury can use, wage garnishment, if you default.

Nighthawk_721 karma

What do you find to be the illegal practice by creditors most often reported to you by your clients?

1800NotFair1 karma

Creditors and debt collectors are very different entities depending upon what they are doing. For creditors, we hear most often about violations of the Telephone Consumer Practices Act, while debt collectors most often are complained about for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.