The Frugal Creditnista

Debt Collection Attorneys – How to Deal With Them

You’ve got a letter demanding payment on an old debt in the mail. This one is different from the other letters, because… it’s from an attorney!  There, in big, bold letters are the words “Law Offices!”  You're shaking in your shoes right about now.  It's inevitable, you have to make payment arrangements now, right?  The last thing you want to have is a professional law firm trying to sue you for a debt!

SLOW DOWN! Just because the collection letter/threat came from an attorney’s office does not mean you can’t treat it the same way you treat any other collection attempts from a collection agency. After all, they’re held accountable under the same federal laws that govern collection agencies and 3rd party debt collectors – The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

Further, most times these letters are generated from an internal department from the same collection agency that has been trying to collect from you in the first place. Reports have shown that by placing the “Law Offices of…” on the letterhead of a debt collection mailing gets significantly more results than a regular ‘this is an attempt to collect a debt' mailing that consumers normally receive.  People are more agreeable to making some form of payment arrangements to settle or satisfy the debt in full if it comes from an attorney's office.

Please note, I am not negating the fact that most times the person listed on the letter is an attorney. I am stating from experience that in most cases these attorneys do nothing more than lend their name and license number to the collection agency in an attempt to scare consumers into paying. Which is why the letters from law offices typically include verbiage threatening a lawsuit.

Will they sue? If you’re worth the pursuit sure, but this will happen whether the threat comes from a collection company or an attorney. My point is you can still demand validation the same way you demand it from a collection agency/3rd party debt collector.

I would also recommend taking it a step further. Google the attorney’s name on the letterhead. Verify if he/she indeed is a separate entity from the collection company or merely an employee of the collection agency. I remember an ‘attorney’ was attempting to collect on a debt I settled with the county I reside it (no statute of limitations on it) and when I googled their name all types of fraudulent posts were listed. I merely demanded validation and they came back with a letter saying I owned a little under $100 more than originally requested. Do you think I paid that? I sent a follow-up letter demanding a full accounting and proof and they never contacted me again.  So, demand validation!

Legal Department Within the Collection Agency

You will probably get threats prior to the collector transferring your account to their legal division, in which they’ll state that a suit for judgment is imminent. From what I’ve seen, there is usually only one attorney and a small staff of non-paralegals that will merely sign the same letter the collection agency has been sending out in the first place but meaner. these attorneys do not generate the letter themselves, nor do they personally review your account – they merely sign it.

Now, if you’re dealing with a smaller company, they usually hire real attorneys who are in your local area, the attorney will have an actual office/address in your state, and will be able to respond to your validation letter according to the law, and are therefore more pleasant to deal with (at least in my personal experience). You can, however, and should still request validation and do not, under any circumstances, fold if they are unable to provide you with everything you’ve requested.

So, if collection attempts come from an attorney, don’t freak out. They are still collecting a debt, they are still held to the FDCPA, and can still be told to stop all collection activities if they are unable to provide you with a full accounting, copies of contracts with your original signatures, and proof of assignment (among other things).

As always, if you have any questions or would like assistance fighting collection activities on your credit report; grab your credit reports and schedule an Initial Consultation Here!

Your Partner in Prosperity,

~ Netiva

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