Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 20, 2020

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Debt buyers are companies that purchase bad debt for pennies on the dollar and then do anything–legal or not–to collect that debt from you and they may be violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in the process. When this happens, you may have a case against the debt buyer. But, how can you know for sure?

When a Debtor Has a Case Against a Debt Buyer

Steve Recordon, an attorney from San Diego, California whose firm represents individuals who have been sued or harassed by debt buyers, says that in almost all debt buyer situations, the debtor has a case. He explained, “The reason they have a case is that debt buyers usually can’t prove their cases. They don’t have the evidence that they need. For example, when they buy an account, they don’t get the original statements, they don’t get the original contract and these are all things that they need to prove in court. Now sometimes they can go back to the original creditor, pay a fee and get some of those documents. However, they don’t want to have to do that. They don’t want to have to pay more money and they don’t want to pay for the expenses of having lawyers represent them. Those are more time consuming and expensive methods of collecting versus the straight default.”

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When You Don’t Have a Case

Recordon says that you won’t have a case when you are going against an original creditor, such as Capital One, as it will have all of the original documentation, as well as the original contract. However, in the debt buyer situation, many debtors simply don’t realize is who is suing them. Recordon says that most debtors are honest, law-abiding people and may have a credit card they didn’t pay off from several years ago and want to do the right thing. Yet, he provided the following caution:

[Debtors] need to look at who’s suing them because the plaintiff in the action, the one that’s actually doing the suing is not the original creditor; it’s somebody else. Now the question is – do you owe money to the person who’s actually suing you? Have you ever heard of the person or company that’s actually suing you? Are they suing you for the right amount? Have they added in interest and attorneys’ fees that they’re not entitled to? Those are all the considerations that they need to look at even if they think they owe the money. You’ve got to analyze it a little further; go a little deeper into it.

Getting Help

If you’re being harassed by a debt collection company, contact an attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. Click here to speak with an experienced debtor’s right collection lawyer who understands the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).