Consumer Attorneys Guiding You Through Fair Debt Collection

Frequently Asked Questions on Debt Collection

Stern•Thomasson LLP Can Help You Protect Your Consumer Rights

Debt issues can make life miserable, especially when creditors and debt collectors are constantly harassing you to demand payment. You deserve the same respect as anyone else in society. The consumer protection lawyers at STERNTHOMASSON LLP have the experience to protect your rights. If you need help handling your debt concerns, call our team today and schedule your initial consultation.

Dial (973) 309-7214 now or contact us online for more information.

Below you will find helpful answers to some of the questions we often hear. For more information, please visit our Resources page or contact our firm.

  • I’ve received a collection letter. What do I do?

    First, as with all communications from a debt collector, you should keep the letter in a safe place. Second, if you would like, we will take a look at the letter and give you our opinion at no charge.

    Scan the letter, including anything on the back of its pages and on the envelope. Save it as a PDF file and email it to us. If this is the first letter, it probably contains a notice about a 30-day period for you to dispute the debt and request information about the original creditor. If you decide to exercise any of your rights, see below regarding disputing a debt or speak with our firm about how to proceed.

  • I received a voice message and think it may be from a debt collector. What do I do?

    Do not delete the message. When a debt collector leaves a message on an answering machine or voice mail, the majority of court decisions say that the message must disclose certain information, such as information about who is calling and why. We would be happy to review the message in a free consultation.

  • How do I dispute a debt?

    Sending a letter to a debt collector within 30 days after receiving the first collection letter will stop the debt collector’s collection activities until they send you verification of the debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not state what has to be included in a verification, and the court decisions have not been terribly precise. Nevertheless, those decisions generally hold that verification does not require very much investigation. The FDCPA only requires that you dispute the debt and does not require an explanation about why.

    We have seen letters based on forms found on the internet where the consumer states that the letter is “not a refusal to pay” and includes a laundry list of requested information. Our opinion is that debt collectors ignore those requests because they only have to meet the law’s requirements. If there is a lawsuit and the letter is shown to the judge, it negatively reflects on the consumer’s credibility. Our recommendations for the dispute letter can be downloaded here.

  • I just was served with a lawsuit. What do I do?

    Get to an attorney as soon as you can, because you must file an answer before the time expires. The time period is different in every state, and your case is much more difficult to defend if you are out of time or a default judgment has been entered. Look for an attorney experienced in defending these cases. If you are located in New Jersey, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation. You can also try your local bar association or the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

  • I obtained my credit report and there are errors on it. What should I do?
    First, be sure to keep all of your credit reports. To protect your rights, you need to dispute the information in writing with the credit reporting agency, even if the incorrect information was supplied by someone else. We do not write dispute letters for clients, but we are happy to provide you with general recommendations for writing your own. We recommend that all communications with credit reporting agencies be in writing using certified mail; we do not recommend ordering credit reports or lodging disputes online. If you are unable to get the error corrected, please feel free to contact us or a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

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