When Law Offices Act as Debt Collectors
If you have any outstanding debts, you may have received a debt collection notice from a law office. That can be scary. You might wonder if you are being sued. So the question can be: is the law office a debt collection agency or are they suing you? The answer is maybe tricky.
There is a law to protect consumers – the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) – that governs how debt collectors can behave when trying to collect money. One part of that act states that debt collectors cannot try to trick people into thinking someone is suing them to collect debts. So, they cannot make it appear that they are lawyers. They can’t put collection notices on the letterhead of a legal office or sign the document as though they are lawyers. Where it gets tricky is this: lawyers can be hired to help in collecting debts.
Frequency of Collection
Whether a law firm falls under the rules of the FDCPA depends first on whether they can be classified as debt collectors. For example, a lawyer who has a single client asking her for help reclaiming a few thousand dollars in payments would not be considered a debt collector. A law office that has 20 associates whose full-time jobs are to process debt collection year-round would fit the definition. Situations that fall in between the two are mainly decided on a case by case basis.
Lawyers as Debt Collectors
If a law office is acting as a debt collector, they have special rules to follow. These rules are because lawyers are scarier than debt collectors to most individuals. Therefore, the automatic concern most people have is that they are being sued. So, to send out debt collection notices, lawyers need to be careful to follow these guidelines:
- Clearly, state they are not filing a lawsuit
- Contain all of the necessary disclosures of a debt collection letter
- Clearly, state it is an attempt to collect a debt
- Generally not involve any part of the legal aspect of the firm or have a lawyers signature
Receiving a debt collection letter – from anyone – is uncomfortable. Receiving one from a law office is nerve-wracking. If you receive a letter that breaks any of the guidelines listed above, it can be downright scary. If you have a collection letter and you have any concerns or questions, contact a bankruptcy lawyer in Melbourne, FL now. They’re in your corner and are ready to assist you with answers to your most pressing worries.
Thanks to the Law Offices of Arcadier, Biggie & Wood for their insight into bankruptcy law and when law offices act as debt collectors.