When you owe money, whether student loan debt, credit card debt, or debt for a home equity loan, creditors have a right to collect this debt. Creditors often sell unsecured debts to third-party collection agencies to recover the debt on their behalf. Unfortunately, dealing with a debt collection agency is not a pleasant experience.
Third-party debt collectors often go to extreme measures to recover debts. This includes calling debtors late at night, calling family members, harassing debtors, and lying about unsecured debt. They may even threaten to seize your personal property and garnish wages.
Both Texas law and federal law have laws to protect debtors against the unfair practices of debt collectors and debt buyers. However, debt collectors do not always abide by these laws. The only way to protect yourself against unfair debt collection practices is by hiring an experienced debt collection attorney.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has over 26 years of experience helping Texas citizens deal with debt collectors. He has seen how cruel collection agencies can be when trying to collect a debt and he works hard to protect debtors against their unfair practices. He can advise you on your legal rights under Texas and federal laws, help you defend against a collection agency, and help you set up a fair payment plan to avoid harsh penalties.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has recognitions from the State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association. He has won many awards for his skills and dedication to Texas taxpayers. He wants to protect you against unfair collection activities and ensure that debt collectors are held accountable for harassment or abuse.
Call our law firm today to schedule a consultation at 210-853-2135.
Texas Debt Collection Act
The Texas Debt Collection act was introduced to protect debtors from the unfair collection practices of debt collectors and collection agencies. This state law applies to original creditors, third-party debt collectors, and any other professional debt collection agencies. The Texas Debt Collection Act provides state protections to the debt collection process and adopts much of the federal law act into Texas law.
This Act protects debtors against fraudulent, harassing, misleading, or abusive tactics of collectors and agencies collecting consumer debt. The type of debt covered under this Act includes consumer debt, such as credit card debt, student loans, medical debt, home equity loans, mortgages, and car loan debt.
If Texas debtors are being treated unfairly by creditors or debt collectors, they can rely on this Act to ensure they are protected. Unethical collectors may be subject to criminal and civil penalties for failing to abide by this Act.
Federal Law Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
There are also measures to protect consumers set out under federal law in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This Act applies only to third-party debt collectors working on behalf of the original creditor or attorneys hired on behalf of the original creditors to collect debts. It does not protect consumers against the unfair collection practices of the original creditor.
Some prohibitions under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act include:
- Calls outside of regular hours, which is before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.
- Calls a person at work if the debt collector has knowledge that the employer does not allow these calls.
- Harassing, oppressive, or abusive conduct.
- Using unfair methods to collect debts.
What Debt Collectors Cannot Do in Texas
Debt collectors are well-known for their intimidating and misleading tactics used to collect debts. Often, people are unaware that debt collectors may lie about things to secure a debt or that they even have protections under Texas law. Debt collectors know this, which is why they often get away with using unfair practices and harassment.
However, there are many things that debt collectors cannot do to recover a debt in Texas. If collectors engage in unlawful practices, they can face criminal and civil penalties.
Try To Collect Debts Not Owed
Often, original creditors sell debts they are owed to third-party debt collectors. These agencies must rely on the information given by the creditor to secure the debt from the debtor. However, information often gets passed on incorrectly, particularly when there are multiple agencies involved or it is an old debt.
When information is incorrect, a debt collector may try to collect a debt that is not actually owed by you. Maybe the debt has passed the statute of limitations, it was discharged in bankruptcy, or you never actually owed the debt. However, if you receive a call from an angry debt collection agency, you could be persuaded to pay the debt back before checking.
You should always receive a written notice about a debt that you owe and double-check this debt with an attorney before paying anything back or admitting that you owe the debt.
Pretend To Work For a Government Agency
A third-party debt collector must be honest about their identity. You can legally request their credentials, including their name, contact information, and the company or agency that they work for. They cannot pretend to work for a government agency to recover debts more easily.
Often, debt collectors pretend to work for government agencies because debtors are more likely to respond to threats from government officials. Collectors sometimes threaten to fine or arrest people who do not pay back their debt. They may also threaten to seize your personal property or garnish your wages.
However, if a collection agency lies about being a government official, they are the ones who may pay the fines and face criminal penalties. Hire an attorney if you have been contacted by a debt collector pretending to work for a government agency.
Debt collectors are prohibited from threatening debtors to pay the debt. This includes using profane or obscene language, threatening criminal acts or violence against a consumer, or threatening to arrest a debtor for not paying a debt. If a debt collector uses profane language to recover a debt, contact an attorney immediately. They will help hold them accountable under Texas law and ensure that you are not threatened to pay a debt.
Often, collection agencies use phone calls to harass debtors into paying unpaid debt. They may call you early in the morning or late at night, call you while you are at work, call your family and friends about the debt, or call you repeatedly throughout the day.
Such calls are strictly prohibited under the Texas Debt Collection Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Debt collectors cannot harass people to pay debt and can face civil and criminal penalties for doing so.
Make False Statements
Using false statements and fraudulent methods to recover a debt is strictly prohibited under Texas debt collection law. This includes using a false name or giving incorrect contact information, not identifying who currently holds the debt, misrepresenting the services of the collection agency, or using other fraudulent methods to get a consumer to admit to a debt.
Unfair Collection Practices
Debt collectors cannot engage in other unfair collection practices to recover a debt. This includes trying to recover more than they are owed, misrepresenting the debt, adding false interest, lying about the judicial status of the debt, or falsely accusing the debtor of fraud to recover the debt.
If you are unsure how much debt you owe, you can request this information in writing from the debt collector. We recommend getting help from an experienced debt attorney, who can backtrack the debt and ensure that you are not paying a cent more than what you owe.
How Should I Respond To a Debt Collection Lawsuit?
When a debt collector contacts you regarding an unpaid debt, you may be unsure about what to do. If you have just been called by a collector, and have yet to receive written notice, contact an attorney immediately to figure out if the debt is legitimate. If it is, and you receive a written summons in the mail, respond within 20 or 30 days.
Failing to respond can lead to a default judgment, which will be very difficult to overturn. A default judgment could lead to added costs, such as interest and attorney fees, and unfair collection methods from the debt collector. You could be subject to wage garnishment or funds being removed from your bank account directly.
To respond to a debt collection lawsuit or a debt collection agency, we recommend contacting an experienced attorney. It is important to know what to say to debt collection agencies. They will use your words against you to ensure liability for debt and to make you pay it back. Your attorney will ensure that your response does not jeopardize you and that follows legal guidelines.
They can help you negotiate with a debt collector to prevent harsh interest rates and set up a fair payment plan. Your attorney will ensure that the collectors do not use unfair, threatening, or fraudulent methods to collect a debt that you allegedly owe.
Contact Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC Today!
Debt collectors are a tough group to deal with. Their only goal is to recover the money that they are owed, and they do not care about your financial situation or your legal rights. Collectors often engage in fraudulent, harassing, and manipulative methods to recover debt from Texas consumers. This can cause significant stress and lead to people paying back money that they do not even owe.
As a Texas taxpayer, you have certain legal rights under the law. This includes the right to be free from harassment and threats from debt collectors and to ensure that you are treated fairly. If you believe that your rights have been violated and that a collector has defrauded or manipulated you, contact an attorney immediately.
Ronald Arthur Stearns Sr. PLLC has seen first-hand how harmful the collection activities of agencies in Texas can be. We understand that owing money is extremely stressful. When you are being chased by a nasty collector on top of this, it causes you a lot more stress. Collectors are much more likely to harass you if you do not have legal representation. With a lawyer, they know they cannot get away with breaking the law.
Our law firm cares about protecting taxpayers and ensuring that they are not treated unfairly. We will do everything we can to help your case and ensure that you do not go into financial difficulty because of an unpaid debt.
Call us today for a consultation with an experienced Texas tax attorney by calling 210-853-2135.