Debt collectors can be tenacious and aggressive and have a variety of techniques they use to try and intimidate people. Those people may not have the means to repay the debt at the pace the collectors demand, and in some cases, they may not actually owe the debt for several reasons.
When the collectors call, it can be frightening and demeaning. No one deserves to be treated that way. That’s why our firm focuses on helping people who are being harassed and struggling with debt. We want to be on your side and help you find a solution to the problem. You don’t need to manage the answer by yourself.
What Will Debt Collectors Do When Trying to Collect Debts?
Debt collectors have several tools in their toolkits for collecting a debt. First and foremost are letters and phone calls. They’ll be persistent, hoping to wear down the debtor, flooding your mailbox, and calling several times a day. Even if you don’t answer the phone or open the mail, knowing they’re attempting to contact you so often can add stress to an already difficult situation.
Can Debt Collectors in North Carolina Take Me to Court?
Yes, debt collectors in North Carolina can file lawsuits and take debtors to court. In the case of unsecured debt, such as credit card debt, filing a lawsuit opens the possibility that the debt collector could eventually file a lien or seize property that could be used to repay the debt.
It’s critical to understand that if a debt collector files a lawsuit, the debtor should not ignore it. If they do, the court can give a default judgment against them to the debt collector, and the collector can then pursue seizing property or filing liens. If you have received notice that a lawsuit will be filed, you’ll have a limited amount of time to respond. Use that time wisely by contacting a debt defense lawyer to help you through this complicated process.
Are There Situations Where Debt Collectors Can’t Collect Debts?
Yes, there are times when a debt collector doesn’t have the legitimate right to collect a debt. These include:
- Identify theft or mistaken identity. If credit accounts were opened fraudulently in your name, or in a case of mistaken identity (someone with the same or similar name) and you can prove it, this is a strong defense. It’s vital that if this is the case, you don’t agree to any settlements or repayment plans with the creditor.
- You paid the debt. There are situations in which someone paid their debt, but it wasn’t properly credited to their account. Providing concrete proof that the debt was repaid can solve the matter.
- The statute of limitations runs out. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for debt collection ends three years after the last activity on the account, whether a charge or a payment. Note that debt collectors will sometimes try to get someone to make a small payment on an otherwise dormant account, because that small payment resets the statute of limitations and gives the collectors another three years to try and collect.
- Incorrect debt amounts. You can force the debt collectors to prove the amount they’re claiming is legitimate and legal. They would need to produce all the contracts and financial documents showing the interest rates and any associated fees add up to that amount.
- Authorized user only. There are two ways someone can allow someone else to use their credit card: Have them sign a credit card agreement that states both parties are responsible for the debt (making the second person a co-signor) or let them use the card without signing an agreement (making the second person an authorized user). Authorized users are not responsible for the debt.
Can I Force Debt Collectors to Stop Calling Me?
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) does provide protection from debt collectors. To make them stop calling or writing, you need to send a later by mail (keep a copy), return receipt requested, telling them to stop all contact with you. If the collector has ways to communicate electronically with customers (email, etc.), you can also use that instead of mailing a physical letter. Once they’ve received the letter, legally they can only contact you to tell you they’re ceasing communications with you or are planning to sue you.
If the collector continues to contact you in spite of being notified to stop, you can file a lawsuit for monetary damages against them.
Is There Any Reason I Shouldn’t Tell Debt Collectors to Stop Contacting Me?
Unfortunately, there are good reasons not to tell debt collectors to stop contacting you. It might speed up the timeline in which the collector would consider filing a lawsuit against you. Because they’ve been told not to contact you, they won’t send information to you about that until they’re ready to go to court. That leaves you less time to prepare.
Debt collectors might also sell your debt to another collection agency. That negatively affects you because the new agency appears as a new collection account in your credit report, which is already hurting because of the unpaid debt.
What Should I Do if I’m Being Harassed by Debt Collectors?
Call us at 252-636-2225 to request a free consultation. Our attorneys have extensive experience helping people who have been in your position. You’re not alone–we want to help you resolve the situation and stop the harassment so you can move forward in your life with less stress and more peace of mind.