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Shady Debt Collectors Rely on Your Goodwill to Make Money

Attorney Briane Pagel discusses how you don't have to pay debt collectors who violate the law and your rights if you did pay debts you didn't owe.

Everyone wants to pay their debts, and nobody wants their credit rating to suffer or face a lawsuit. Debt collectors rely on these principals to try to get debtors to make payments they cannot afford, sometimes on debts that are uncollectible or which the debtors may not owe.

In Illinois, recently, law enforcement began to take action against debt collectors demanding money from debtors for debts that were entirely made up and fraudulent. Some debtors paid as much as $30,000 to resolve debts they never owed.

Just demanding that you pay money you don’t owe violates both federal and state law, and if someone demands money from you with no right to do so, you can sue them for causing you emotional distress and other damages, and recover compensation (including having the other side pay your attorney’s fees.)

In addition, Wisconsin frequently lets you sue both the debt collector and the creditor who transferred the debt – so even if the debt collector disappears (as many of them do) the original creditor may be liable to you.

Both federal and state law require creditors and debt collectors to provide you with written information about the debt, information which includes their name and address, who original creditors were, when they obtained the right to the debt, and how much of the debt is interest or other charges. This information must generally be provided at or near the time of demanding the money, and always before someone sues you.

If someone has called you demanding money, but you haven’t seen anything in writing from that business or person, do not pay them any money. The failure to send you written information means that they are operating illegally in one way or another, and you do not have to pay debt collectors who violate the law.

Instead, call Lawton & Cates. Our lawyers have decades of experience defending debtors and suing collectors for illegal actions; we can quickly advise you on your rights, and help you avoid making payments you should not have to make. 

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