Have you heard the statement "We are a debt collector and any information we obtain will be used for that purpose" Guess what, they mean it. In addition to information you tell them they also have access to the following information:
- Credit reports. They know your credit score and current financial condition and how much you owe other creditors.
- Asset search. They have information from the public records. This includes cars and real estate that you own.
- Credit applications. Any information you provided on a credit application is available to them. This includes other assets, income and employment information, all of which is useful in the collection process. Most clients try to look good on a credit application and do not hold back information.
- Payments. Every time you make a payment you provide your bank information. This can be used to locate and levy your bank account.
Do not use exempt property or assets to repay your debts.
Under Florida and Federal law, certain assets and income are exempt from collection by your creditors. These include the equity in your home, retirement plans, life insurance and annuities. The debt collector knows that these assets are protected but will tell you to use these to repay your debts. Do not repay any creditors in this manner without talking to an attorney first.
You need to know who you are talking to and who they represent.
As an attorney, I only represent debtors. I do not represent credit card companies, banks or other financial institutions. You need to know this. I will only do what you tell me to do and what is in your best interest. Too often, clients come to me after receiving advice from non-attorneys or credit counselors. They have been sued and then realize the need for an attorney.
Be very careful about debt settlement companies.
Most of these are scams. Search online for complaints or check out the Federal Trade Commission. They take advantage of conscientious people seeking to repay their debts. Every week, I meet with clients who have entered into these arrangements. These clients come to me after they have been sued by a credit card company that was supposedly included in the debt arrangement. I will only make a plan to deal with all of your debts and which will protect you from further collection activity while you make the payments. As a local attorney, I will go to court to defend any plan that you make through my office.