These past few years I’ve learned a great deal about consumer law and the rights of a consumer in general; but I think the most significant thing I’ve learned is that you should never trust a debt collector. Recently I had a trial in which I was representing a consumer against a debt collector regarding an allegedly owed debt. The consumer had been handling his own case for about two years before he retained my services less than a week before the trial. Prior to trial, the debt collector would periodically send my client official looking documents trying to convince my client that he owed them money, and that they had a legal right to collect this money. The debt collectors would speak on the phone with my client and say things like “we’ve never lost one of these cases before, you might as well settle just so we can avoid the time and expense of trial.”
There’s a reason debt collectors are so willing to settle, they often don’t have the proof they need to show that you owe a debt or that they have a right to collect that debt. My client did not think that he had to pay them, so as a last stitch effort he contacted me to see if what the debt collectors were saying was true. Upon looking at the documents the debt collector provided to my client, it became immediately apparent to me that the debt collectors had no case. In order to collect on a debt, the debt collector must establish at trial that they were validly assigned the debt from the original creditor (the organization that first extended the credit). In order to establish this they must provide a document from the original creditor that shows the original creditor’s absolute intent to assign the underlined debt to the debt collector. Many debt collectors, for a plethora of reasons, don’t have this document. Even if they do, the debt collectors need someone from the original creditor to come to court and verify that the assignment document is valid. This is the first hurdle a debt collector must jump over when trying to prove a case against a consumer, this hurdle is often high enough to stop a debt collector’s case at the start.
Maybe I’m just jaded, which I doubt since I am still easily excited about fresh cupcakes, but I have trouble believing any assertion made by a debt collector. I believe that a person must have a psychological deficiency that drives them to make a career out of collecting debts. As such I wouldn’t consider them to be reputable people, so before you believe any contention made by a debt collector make sure they have the evidence necessary to collect a debt from you. If you think you don’t owe a debt, chances are you’re right.