Fighting Back Against Abusive or Harassing Collection Practices

 How can you fight back against abusive, harassing or misleading collection practices?  In Connecticut, an aggrieved debtor might turn to the state's abusive collection practices statute. 

 A debtor who proves his or her case may be entitled to actual damages, additional damages up to $1,000 and costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees.  Or, the abusive creditor may be persuaded in a proper case to negotiate a settlement. 

 In a recent case, our firm negotiated a favorable settlement on behalf of a client with the credit card subsidiary of a major national bank.  In addition to receiving money to settle the case, the client recouped all of his attorneys' fees and expenses.  Names are omitted here to preserve confidentiality.

 The client had moved out of the country for a job opportunity.  He sent a change of address letter to the bank.  He engaged a third-party debt-settlement firm to negotiate the satisfaction of a credit card debt.  He agreed to pay the negotiated settlement amount to satisfy the credit card debt and he did pay the settlement amount.  He was sued anyway.  When commencing the suit, the bank directed a State Marshal to serve a summons and complaint at the client's vacant house in Connecticut -- literally thousands of miles from his then actual home. 

The Marshal was following the procedure for service at a defendant's "actual place of abode" according to statute

 Despite efforts to have the suit withdrawn -- service was improper and he was satisfying the debt anyway -- the bank's collection law firm continued the suit.  The client counterclaimed under the abusive practices statute.   

 That statute, in this case, was a useful tool for solving the real problem: getting the bank's (or its attorneys') attention.  There was not a lot of money involved, especially for a national bank.  And, the client intended to -- and did -- satisfy the debt.  There should have been no dispute.  Ultimately, the bank, through its attorney, did pay a bit of attention -- enough to settle the case "amicably."

 

Image: Google Images, Public Domain, Boxer John Lawrence Sullivan

 

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