Note: This blog has two purposes:
1. I want you to give you interesting content that I have curated, digested, and then written about in a way that is engaging and understandable. My goal is both that you would be entertained and become more interested in the law.
2. I want you to hire my firm to help you with your legal issue.
So the blog is sort of a friendly boxing match. I give you (hopefully) good stuff—jab, jab, jab—and then every once in a while I’ll work in a right hook where I’m really gunning for your business. Today will be a right hook. Now, it’s not a haymaker—this information should be good and hit my “target”—but I’m still looking for your business. Just wanted you to know.
Now for the good stuff . . .
When someone doesn’t pay for something they’ve bought, that debt is often sold to a company that specializes in debt collection. This debt might be a credit card or car loan or motorcycle loan or anything. If the company can’t collect the debt itself, it hires a debt collection law firm to sue the debtor. There are several of these debt collection law firms in Arkansas; some are better than others.
The debt collection process is highly regulated—a debt collection company can’t just do whatever it wants. The most important regulation for debt collection firms is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which is both a federal law and an Arkansas law. It applies to suits over credit card debt.
In 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court decided a case called LVNV Funding v. Nardi, where it basically reminded Arkansas debt collection firms that they have to have proof of the original debt before they sue. Because these debts have been sold, many times the original contract has been lost. No original contract = no lawsuit. (Courts have since decided that an Arkansas debt collection firm can amend or change their lawsuit if they later find the original document, but they usually can’t find it.)
Arkansas debt collection firms operate this way: They sue (on a credit card debt, for example), nobody answers, they get a default judgment on the debt because no one has answered, then they garnish someone’s wages with the default judgment. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if they actually have a case or have the original document because people usually don’t fight it.
That’s what we want to change. No one should ever just roll over in a debt collection lawsuit. At the very least, he or she needs to make sure that the Arkansas debt collector actually has the original contract. If the debt collector does have the original contract, it’s time to settle. If they don’t, the judge should dismiss the case.
If you (or someone you know, of course) has been sued by an Arkansas debt collection firm, please reach out to us. This is especially true if you’ve been sued and the time for filing an answer has elapsed—usually thirty days. You may not only be able to get out of the debt, but you may also be able to get damages under the FDCPA because the debt collector sued you improperly. The damages for every single communication that violates the FDCPA is $1000.
The debt collector may or may not have the original contract, but they usually don’t. Hire us to help you find out.