A: You may need Debt Collection Defense. A few years ago, in a case that the debt buyer LVNV brought against one of our clients (09-L6-AC00441), Mrs. Bearden (then Miss Longo) argued that the debt collector was attempting to sue the consumer for an incorrect balance and a rate of interest that had no basis in either contract or law. The court agreed that the debt collector should not be allowed to do that, and awarded $16,350.20 on a counterclaim against the debt collector.
In a similar ruling on a case in 2010, Asset Acceptance, the debt collector, brought a case (325 S.W.3d 525) which the appeals court kicked out ruling that they were attempting to treat the original creditor’s documents as if they were their own. More recently, Attorney Jovanna Bearden won an important appeal in the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals that sent waves through the debt-buying industry nationwide. According to the court, the debt collector, Royal Financial Group, violated the law by bringing a lawsuit in state court without proper evidence of the debt or the assignment of the debt. The court established the important precedent that debt collectors could be held liable for bringing suits against debtors without sufficient documentation.
Unfortunately, these cases are not rare exceptions. We handle hundreds of cases every year defending our clients against companies like Midland Funding, LVNV, Cavalry, Asset Acceptance, and many others. We want to make sure that the debt buyer in your particular case has spent the time and effort to make sure that the debt is current, accurate, and properly assigned to them rather than, like in the LVNV case above, just guessing at the numbers. Because most people do not know their legal rights, they can be vulnerable to bullying techniques designed to make massive profits for these debt buyers.
If debt buyers are legitimately collecting a debt and are prepared to provide correct and adequate documentation of their right to collect these debts, we are glad to help our clients settle their accounts fairly and in the best interest of all involved. However, due to the poor state of industry practices, many debt collection lawsuits are based on improper evidence or no evidence at all, and they depend on their targets to be afraid the prospect of a lawsuit or ashamed that they were not able to pay the original creditor. The fact that most defendants in these cases don’t even go to court to speak on their own behalf leaves little incentive for debt collectors to honor their legal obligations to debtors. The law provides debtors with tools to demand that they are treated fairly, and with a lawyer well versed in industry obligations, debt collectors have significant accountability before the law.
Bearden Law’s main mission is to hold these firms accountable, and ensuring that the rights of our clients are protected. Every case is different and needs a tailored defense, but there are many similarities. Because of our extensive experience in these cases we are able to offer affordable, efficient, and effective help to clients who want to defend themselves. Our clients do not need to appear in court. In cases where we believe the debt collector has violated the defendant’s rights, we file counterclaims against the plaintiff. We bear the cost of these counterclaims and recover our expenses from the plaintiff if we are successful, in addition to recovering legal fees and damages for our clients. With our help, defendants are not powerless.
If you are being sued by a debt buyer in western Missouri, contact us. We will be happy to discuss your case with you and help you understand your situation. You will know the total cost of your defense before we even get started, and if you need it, we will set up a payment plan that works with your monthly budget. We will also examine your case for potential counterclaims which could force the debt collector not only to reimburse your legal expenses but award you damages. Understanding your situation and having a plan of action will alleviate the powerlessness that comes from not knowing how to protect your rights. Don’t be a victim of the debt collection industry. Let us fight on your behalf.