California Debt Defense

This information is intended for California residents only.  This is general information only.  You must speak with a lawyer to know how the law applies to your case.

Protect Yourself from Creditor Harassment

Law Office of Thomas Hjerpe

350 E Street, Suite 403

Eureka, CA  95501

Telephone:  707 442-7262

- Thomas Hjerpe, Esq.

- Jocelyn Godinho, Esq.

When contacting you the debt collector must identify himself or herself as a debt collector, they must identify the debt they are trying to collect and the amount owed.  They must also advise you of your right to dispute the debt and how to dispute the debt or seek verification of the debt.  If that information is not provided in the initial contact, they must send it to you in writing within five days after the initial contact.

A debt collector can contact you by phone or in writing

What is Allowed?

Some examples of abuse are:

* Threatening  to use violence against you or anyone else;

* Threatening to ruin your reputation or the reputation of anyone else.  

* They cannot use obscene or abusive language;  

* Calling repeatedly or calling at unusual or inconvenient times.   Calls before 8am or after 9pm are presumed abusive, but if you have informed them that you work nights and sleep during the day calls in the middle of the day may be deemed abusive;

* Calling you at work if you have informed them that you are not allowed to receive collection calls at work;

* Saying they are with a law enforcement agency or that they are connected with a governmental agency;

* Claiming to be an attorney;

* Saying that you have committed a crime [a common abuse with payday loans];

* Sending you documents that look like they are from a Court or an attorney or that they are part of a legal process when they are not;

* Threatening to take action that they do not actually intend to take

Prohibited Communication:  A debt collector cannot communicate with anyone other than you.  They cannot call and talk to your employer or your supervisor.  They cannot call your family or friends.  There are two big exceptions:

* Contacting your attorney.  As a general statement, if you refer a collection agency to your attorney they cannot continue to contact you and they must direct all communication to your attorney.    

* Contacting family and friends for the limited purpose of getting contact information for you.  They cannot tell your family that you owe a debt and they cannot contact the family member more than once unless they believe that a prior response was incorrect or incomplete.

A debt collector cannot abuse you.  Abuse takes many forms.

What is Prohibited?

The primary goal is to stop the harassment.  If harassment continues you may have to hire an attorney to sue them.  The biggest problem with suing a collection agency is proving that the abuse occurred.  If you take the proper, formal steps to try to stop the harassment you will also be establishing the record and evidence that you will need if you have to take the next step and sue a collection agency

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from harassment

What to do if you are being harassed

Once a creditor files a lawsuit you cannot resolve a dispute by writing letters.  From the date you are served with a Summons and Complaint by a debt collector you have 30-days to file an Answer with the court.  If you do not properly file the appropriate response the debt collector will get a judgment against you.  This is called a “default judgment.”  Once a creditor gets a default judgment you will not have the opportunity to resolve any disputes you may have had about the debt.  Also, once a creditor gets a default judgment they will be able to attach the debt as a lien to your real estate, garnish your wages and levy on bank accounts.  Bankruptcy attorneys generally offer a free initial consultation.  A good bankruptcy attorney will talk with you about all of the options available under the circumstances.  Often a bankruptcy attorney will be able to identify one or more ways to resolve debts without the need to file a bankruptcy.  If you have been sued we can consult with you about bankruptcy and other options for resolving debts.

If you have been sued by a creditor you need to see a lawyer

What to do if you have been sued

You Can Stop Debt Collectors from Abusing You.  The Law protects you.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

If you owe money and you can’t pay, your creditors have the right to contact you to ask for payment.  Your creditors also have the right to sue you.  Your creditors do not have the right to harass you.  Both the Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act [FDCPA] and the California Fair Debt Collections Practices Act [called the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act] prohibit creditors from abusing you.  If creditors harass and abuse you, these laws empower you to sue them.  The creditor must also pay your attorney’s fees.  Therefore, when a creditor is abusing you, you can sue them and collect damages and they must pay for the attorney you use to sue them.

Steps to take to protect yourself from Creditor Harassment

How We Can Help

Many people can stop creditor harassment and resolve disputes without the help of a lawyer.  If you want help we are here for you.  We provide services on a flat-fee basis.  We know how to stop harassment.

Services we provide