Recently, our attorney Paul Markoff was chosen to lead a class action suit against Midland Credit Management on behalf of consumers who were misled by a form letter sent by Midland. The lead plaintiff, Renetrice Pierre, argued that the letter did not warn debtors that by agreeing to pay any amount to Midland Credit Management, it would re-open a time-barred debt. Debtors cannot be sued for money owed on a debt that has passed the statute of limitations. However, if they pay any amount to a collections agency, then that debt is re-opened and they can be sued again.
Sending a letter which purposefully omits pertinent information that most debtors would not be reasonably expected to know is unlawful, and a U.S. District Judge ruled that Midland Credit Agency had violated the FDCPA in doing so. This summary judgment is a win for debtors' rights, and we are proud of the key role Mr. Markoff played.
Know Your Rights As A Debtor
If Renetrice Pierre had been intimidated by the Midland Credit Management letter and had simply made a payment instead of investigating further, her time-barred debt would have been re-opened. She would then have been vulnerable to legal action taken by unscrupulous collections agencies.
It is important to be familiar with your rights under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) to avoid being taken advantage of. There are certain behaviors and actions that debt collection agencies are prohibited by law from engaging in, including:
- Not identifying themselves immediately as a debt collector when contacting you
- Making false or misleading statements over the phone or in written communication
- Attempting to collect a time-barred debt without properly notifying you that the debt is past the statute of limitations and letting you know what the potential consequences of making a payment could include
- Threatening to physically harm you or to harm your reputation
- Telling you that you must make an immediate payment
- Calling you so incessantly that it becomes harassment
- Trying to collect an amount greater than the amount you actually owe, or charging excessive interest rates or fees
For a more comprehensive list of actions to watch out for, please visit our debt collection rights page. Owing money does not mean you are powerless or without rights. If you think you've been taken advantage of by a third party debt collection agency, please don't hesitate to contact the consumer law attorneys at Markoff Leinberger.
Schedule Your Debt Collection Legal Consultation
If you suspect that your rights have been violated by a debt collection agency, contact Markoff Leinberger today at 877-905-5161 to schedule your free, no-obligation legal consultation. We will be happy to review your case and let you know if you have legal recourse against your debt collector.
We serve clients in Chicago, Illinois and nationwide.