Many of my clients get debt collection calls and and debt demand letters, and many of these calls and letters come from just a few debt collection agencies. All of the big banks contract out their default and delinquent accounts to a relatively small number of large debt collectors. If you are sued on a debt, you should call an attorney to discuss debt collection companies and negotiating debts.
Here’s a partial list of those who most prominently collect and sue in the D.C. area:
Glasser & Glasser
Unifund and eCast
These companies get aggressive on the phone. When you call them, they ask, “How much can you pay today?” A phone call without payment is a waste of time to a debt collector.
On the other hand, letters are apparently very efficient for them, since they send them with great frequency, sometimes several times a week. These demand letters (or occasionally “final notices”) are printed on pretty (and expensive) thick pink and blue paper with perforations. On the phone, debt collectors are aggressive, but in the mail, they’re passive aggressive. It’s amazing how many times a company will issue a final notice.
Once you are sued, however, you must take action to protect your legal rights. Consult with a debt defense attorney immediately.
Don’t Just Pay the Debt Collector
Most debt collectors have purchased the debt at a dramatically reduced rate. In many cases we will be able to settle your debt for some percentage of the amount owed. Most of my clients achieve a significant discount. Settlement options include lump-sum payout, payment plans, and claim set-off. Perhaps or perhaps not ironically, the longer you have been in default, the more discounted your debt may be.
For instance, if you owe $12,000 to American Express and a Midland Funding representative offers you a 45% settlement, you will need to come up with $5400 within a week (or at most two) to take advantage of that offer. Most people whose accounts are in collection do not have that kind of ready cash on hand. If you have many different creditors on these kinds of debts, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy. For those who want to settle a debt, however, you should prepare your attorney with any counterclaims or defenses you may have.
My clients occasionally report horrible violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. For instance, one of the most egregious of these violations is the threat to commence criminal action. Debt collection is a civil matter. You cannot be charged for a crime for owing a debt. Debt collectors expose themselves to serious liability for violations of the FDCPA. If a debt collector is getting too aggressive with you, call my office, regardless of the amount owed. That debt collector may be mistreating others in exactly the same way.
If you’re going to settle the debt, don’t just pay the debt collector. Negotiate. Or better yet, hire us to negotiate on your behalf.
Debt Collection Companies and Negotiating Debts
If you are sued, you have tight timelines to respond and file documents and pleadings. Contact an attorney immediately if a debt collector sues you.
Litigation is expensive, but negotiation is affordable. Debt collection companies, on the whole, will work with you if you take their claim seriously and evince a willingness to repay according to your means. Hiring an attorney who can credibly invoke the bankruptcy threat can be an asset. If you seek steep debt reduction settlement, extended repayment terms, or have any special defenses particular to your case, contact an attorney to determine your options.
Retaining an attorney to negotiate terms of settlement with a debt collection agency can save you a lot of time and money.