1. Who am I and Why You May have Received a Letter from me
We are consumer lawyers that represent people against companies and individuals that take advantage of consumers. We sue credit card companies, mortgage brokers, car dealers, contractors and others whose business practices attempt to profit by victimizing consumers. We don’t represent creditors, collection agencies or any other entity in any matters against consumers.
We sent you this letter because a company that holds itself out as a credit card company – although they are not – is suing you in an attempt to collect a debt that it is doubtful that you owe. We call these companies zombie debt buyers. Their business model is to purchase credit card debt that has been “charged off” by the original creditor for a small pittance, and then to file suit against unsuspecting consumers in an attempt to transform their worthless purchase into a judgment. Once they have a judgment, they can then collect the amount of their judgment through property seizure, wage garnishment, bank account garnishment and a variety of other means.
The problem is that they often have no right to collect any amount from you – and in attempting to collect from you that they often violate a raft of consumer protection laws – laws designed to protect you from exactly this conduct. These consumer protection laws often require the unscrupulous companies to pay your attorney fees – as well as damages in the event you defeat their claims. Because of these “fee shifting” provisions (as we call them), we can often represent you for a small fraction of what it would cost if you just went out and hired a lawyer – paying them by the hour to help you.
2. How Did I Find You?
By looking at the public lawsuit filings on file in St. Louis City court website anyone can see whatever addresses information the collector had when they filed the suit against you. We simply take this information and use it to mail you this letter. If the file indicates that you already have a lawyer, then we don’t send you a letter.
3. If I hire you – do I still have to go to court every couple of weeks?
NO. This is the real deal – if you hire us to represent you – and we agree to undertake that representation – then we cover all of your future court dates. We can often get these cases resolved fairly quickly – lifting this uncertainty from your life and letting you get on with living it.
4. Why Would I Hire You?
The main initial reason to hire a lawyer in a case like this – is that often I can get rid of the suit altogether – that is it can never be re-filed against you. We do this by asserting your rights under the many consumer protection laws that exist to help you. These laws are technical, and the procedures in court can often be confusing to someone unfamiliar with this area of the law, even a lawyer. Because your getting even one detail wrong can result in a judgment against you, it is generally worthwhile to hire a lawyer who knows exactly how to handle these cases.
If you don’t do anything this worthless, noncollectable debt becomes a judgment, and collectible and you lose pretty well any chance to stop the zombie debt collectors from collecting it from you. This is a big risk – because the zombie debt collectors will often get judgments with interest at a phenomenally high rate – so that you will pay and pay and pay, but the amount you owe will continue to increase.
5. What Are The Laws That Protect Me?
The classes of laws that protect you from the predatory actions of the zombie debt buyers are known as consumer protection statutes. The primary ones we use to help you are known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (or FDCPA for short).
Now it is important to realize that we cannot guarantee any result if you hire us. We may win or we may lose. The fact that we have won most of our cases in the past does not mean that we will win your case. There is always that risk. But ignoring the lawsuit has a sure result – a judgment against you. A judgment that puts your things – your money, assets, cars, income tax refunds, bank accounts and valuables at risk of being seized, sold and applied to this zombie debt – a debt you probably do not owe.
6. What are the other problems that may arise from this suit?
One significant impact of these suits is that they can destroy your credit and make it more difficult for you to borrow money to buy a home or a car or anything else. In addition, bad credit can impact your ability to get a job or insurance, among other things. Judgments last for ten years – and they can be easily renewed for successive ten-year periods – meaning this thing will be around for a good, long while. Negative items on your credit reports stay on for seven years after the matter is finally reported. These hidden damages from getting a judgment against you are often more costly than the judgment itself.
7. But how do I know if the services you provide are right for me?
The short answer is you don’t. Every situation is a little bit different. That is why our initial consultation with you is free – you will never pay a penny for this time. We do this so that we can evaluate your case properly. You are bound to have questions – questions you should have answered face to face with an actual attorney. If you call us you are entitled to this free consultation. We will set it up to fit your schedule. You have nothing to lose, if we don’t want to take your case, or if you decide you don’t want to hire us for any reason, then that is the end of it. You are never billed for this time nor do you incur any obligations to our firm. It is a pretty sweet deal. And we do this because in most cases we can help you – and we want you to find this out before you have to spend one dime of your hard-earned money.
8. Okay, But Why You and Not My Regular Lawyer?
We are members of the National Association of Consumer Attorneys – and are listed on their website. The defense of these types of credit card suits is what we do – day in and day out. We have litigated these issues in dozens of trial courts – for hundreds of clients. We have spent hundreds of hours studying the very technical workings of the consumer protection statutes. There are many qualified attorneys out there – and chances are you know one. But being a good criminal defense attorney, or a good personal injury attorney or a good any other type of attorney doesn’t prepare them to handle this type of technical consumer protection law.
The best reason to use me that we have the experience that other firms and individual attorneys do not – so we can do these cases more quickly and more efficiently – often with far better results – than attorneys that do not regularly handle these cases.
9. Great, you answered every question but the one I needed answered.
That often happens. Every situation is different, and everyone’s experience up to this point has been different. Remember, we provide a free consultation. You can ask as many questions as you like – until you are satisfied with the answer – for no charge. You can meet with the actual attorney that will be handling your case, get to know them and make sure that you are comfortable with our representation of you. If this doesn’t work for you – you simply walk away, free of any obligation to my firm, free to handle this matter as you see fit.
10. Fine, what do I do now – how do I start the process – my court date is coming up quick!
Starting the process is simple. Call our office and schedule an appointment. Then gather up everything you have regarding the account in question. At a minimum we need the summons you were served with and any collection letters that you received prior to the commencement of suit. We can handle everything else from there. We often ask that you get copies of your free tri-bureau credit reports. There is a federal law that requires that the big three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experion and TransUnion – provide you with one free copy of your credit report each year. The big three maintain a website for this purpose. Unlike FreeCreditReport.com and a host of other “free” credit report websites – who actually exist only to sell you overpriced credit insurance – the big three’s website actually is free. It takes a little time – you need to enter in a bunch of information as they request it – but it is worth it. The web site is located at http://www.annualcreditreport.com. You will need to print copies of all three reports and bring them with you to your appointment. These are not necessary to defend you in the zombie debt action – but they do help us identify other potential legal remedies that you have available to help you.
11. Uh, I actually have a couple of these suits, what then?
One, ten it really doesn’t matter – our process is the same. But if you have a bunch of suits, there may be options that make more financial sense for you than fighting them all. There may not. We will go over this in the initial consultation. That is your best chance to get every question answered.