I have written on the California Personal Injury and Insurance Blog about talking to an attorney after a car accident. But, it is also important to talk to an attorney if you are in debt or receiving calls or letters from a debt collector. There are a few different scenarios when you need to talk to an attorney.
First, if you are getting behind on your bills, you should talk to an attorney. The sooner you get someone involved, the better it is. I have helped people who were less than 30 days behind on their debts figure out a plan to avoid having problems with their credit. A little planning goes a long way.
Second, if you receive a phone call or a letter from a debt collector, you need to talk to an attorney. Maybe it is your debt and you want to know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“Rosenthal Act”). Maybe you want to come up with a plan on what to do. For example, the debt collector has 5 days from the first phone call to send you a letter. You need to know that, and to keep the envelope.
Of course, it may not be your debt. I have consulted with several people in the last few weeks who are getting calls for people with similar names, but who are not that person. How do you stop these calls? There are a few things to do, depending on your specific situation.
Finally, if you have been sued by a debt collector, you need to talk to an attorney. Some planning before you file a response to the lawsuit can go a long way towards getting it resolved. Just last week a debt collector agreed to dismiss a case before I even filed an answer. While that does not happen in every case and your results may be different, it does show that some early work may be able to resolve it. Of course, you may consult with an attorney and then determine you need to file for bankruptcy or take some action other than responding. You will not know unless you have that consultation.
Talking to an attorney early on may save you headaches down the road. The consultation is free so you have nothing to lose by picking up the phone and calling.