Getting called by scam debt collectors? Problem with old Payday loans?
You know the ones, since you Googled the phone number and the name- the ones that sound fishy. They threaten jail or lawsuits or they are going to put something on your social security number or some such hokum like that. You Googled the phone number and the name, and all that comes up is complaints about them, but no name of a company, and no address. So who are they?
First, lets think about them. They have violated the law in a number of ways. They called, threatened, lied, cajoled and implied. All of which violates the law on collection in umpteen different ways.
So now we got em. We know they have violated the law. Lets sue them!!
But lets ratchet it down for a second.
One of the things that a wise lawyer once told me was that every lawsuit that is successful comes with 3 elements.
1- Liability. This is the legal term for “they did something wrong” that the law does not permit. Liability is different for each type of case.
2- Damages. This is the legal term for “there is money that is owed.” This can be statutory damages (for example, the law says that for some violations, you are entitled to money because the law says so), this can be actual damages (for example, in a car wreck case, there are medical expenses, lost wages, etc.), and in some cases, this can be punitive damages also known as punishment damages. (Punitive damages are VERY rarely awarded for improper debt collection tactics).
3- and most importantly– Collectability. This is the term for “they have money that we can get at”. This can be a bank account, or wages, or it can be insurance.
Without all 3 of these elements, liability, damages and collectability, there is no point in wasting your money on suing someone.
So lets go back to our problem collector.
We have liability- the FDCPA prohibits collection tactics that are false, misleading, abusive, or unfair. They have done all of that and more.
We have damages- the FDCPA calls for damages because they did the act, up to $1000, plus if you have actual damages, you can get that, plus attorney fees and costs.
But the collectability is often strained. Who are we suing? Where are they? How would we serve them with a copy of the complaint? (OK, that is more of a technical question for a lawyer, but still.)
How do we find these scammers?
Some of the more orthodox methods are to Google the phone number, the name, the company name, anything they tell you, spend 10 minutes on Google looking for it.
Some of the less orthodox methods are to check credit reports. Equifax, TransUnion and Experian are required to show you who looked at your credit report in the last 2 years. This can be a good hint.
You could check with one of the smaller credit reporting agencies, one that specializes in small and high risk loan companies, like CoreLogic TeleTrack.
From there, you have to just guess at who they are, and hope you are right.
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Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc.
1650 Willow Lawn Dr. Suite 201
Richmond, VA 23230