I received a call that I was being served with papers from a California debt attorney. He never mailed me anything and now is requesting $991+33% interest and attorney fees with a total of $5300. Is this legal?
1 Answer from Attorneys
First of all, lawyers don't make calls of this type. How do you know this was a lawyer? Debt collectors use these scams all the time and impersonate the police or lawyers.
This conduct is not illegal per se, but if its a debt collector, it might be a violation of the federal fair debt collection practices act.
Next time this joker calls, you need to ask if the call is recorded (it is but you want them to confirm this). After they say the part about they are a lawyer, ask for the attorney's name and state bar number. By this point you will have them rattled. If they give you it, look it up. All states have bar associations with lawyer directories so the attorney will be listed if they are legitimate.
If you get to this point in the conversation, ask the "attorney" if he has sent you anything in writing about the debt. If not, give them your address and ask them to send you a letter. A debt collector is required by federal law to send you a collection letter with information about the debt within 5 business days after they first talk with you.
Be polite but be firm. If he gets rude or ugly, hang up. If you have caller id or logs, make a note of the number from which the calls came. After your call is concluded, Google the number. That will tell you who is calling and if this is a debt collector or some kind of scam.
Failing all of this, PA law as well as the fair debt collections act provide that a debt collector cannot contact you once they know you are represented by an attorney. For a reasonable fee, I can contact the debt collector, stop any further calls to you and resolve the debt once I get verification that this is your debt. If you want to discuss the specifics of your case in confidence, I give free email consults. Please contact me at email@example.com if interested.