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Fair Debt Collection in Massachusetts

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, and Massachusetts Debt Collection Law prohibit invasion of privacy, false or misleading statements, harassment, and other abusive acts by debt collectors and creditors. 

When a debt collector violates your rights, you have the right to sue for damages.  Here are some common scenarios in which consumers have successfully brought suits against debt collectors and recovered money damages.

A debt collector has spoken with someone besides you or your spouse about your debt. 

You have received an excessive number of calls at work from a debt collector, especially after you have asked the debt collector to stop. 

You have sent a cease and desist letter to a debt collector, and they have ignored it. 

A debt collector has threatened to sue you, garnish your wages, or take your property. 

Filing suit against a debt collector when you owe money sometimes seems odd.  However, the debt collection laws exist to protect all consumers even those who owe debts.  The laws only work if those who have been wronged bring suit to vindicate these rights.  Statutory money damages are available to ensure that these laws are enforced.  We cannot take every case, but we investigate every case for free.  If we do take your case, we get our fees from the defendants, not from you.

If you want to learn more about bringing a lawsuit against a debt collector, read the FDCPA Lawsuit Fact Sheet. After you read the FDCPA Lawsuit Fact Sheet, there will be a link to submit a FDCPA questionnaire.

Some more information about debt collection laws in Massachusetts is immediately below.  Thanks for visiting! Go to Contact Page

Massachusetts Fair Debt Collection Laws

Creditors versus Debt Collectors

There is a difference in the law between the companies that lend you money and companies that come in after default to collect.  The companies that lend you money are called "creditors".  Companies that specialize in collecting debts are "debt collectors" (or sometimes "collection agencies").  As always, there are exceptions and complications, but this is the basic fact.  This distinction is very important because debt collectors are held to a higher standard than creditors: they are subject to the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA").  Among other things, the FDCPA provides for mandatory statutory damages to a consumer who has suffered a violation of the law.

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How to Communicate with Debt Collectors

1. Write a letter.  Identify yourself, identify your account, and make your point.  Note: A consumer has the right to make a debt collector stop calling.

2. Make a copy of the letter for your records;

3. Send the letter to the debt collector certified mail return receipt requested.  Keep the return receipt.

You can also communicate with a debt collector via fax.  Just remember to keep copies of all correspondence and fax confirmation sheets.

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Debt Collection Phone Calls

You do not have to talk to debt collectors.  Debt collectors have one job, to get money from you, and the primary way they have of doing it is by talking to you.  Intimidating phone calls demanding money work pretty well.  However, whether you pay a debt or not should be a decision you make based on your ability to pay and other factors.  It should not be something you are bullied or harassed into doing.

A lot of illegality happens during debt collection phone calls.  Some of it can be the basis for a viable lawsuit against a debt collector.


Cease and Desist Letters: You have the right to stop a debt collector from communicating with you.  If you write a debt collector and tell them that you refuse to pay a debt or that you want the debt collector to cease further communication with you, they must comply (with the exception of some very limited circumstances). To make this letter work you must send it certified mail return receipt requested.  Identify yourself and debt (with account number or file number) and keep a copy of the letter and the green card from the post office.  If the debt collector calls you back, write everything down, including their name, company's name, time, date, everything they said and you said.  At this point the debt collector will have broker the law, and you will have the right to sue to recover damages.  Read more about that process here.

Privacy Rights

Debt collectors can not inform other people that you owe a debt (except your spouse and some other very limited exceptions). This is a serious invasion of your privacy and against the law.  For example, a debt collector can not inform other members of your household, your neighbors, or the people you work with about your debt.  They can not say they are calling about a debt or to collect a debt.  They can not even say who they work for unless someone asks.  This is a serious offense and can be easy to prove because there is often a third-party to testify that they were told about the debt.  These are almost always the best FDCPA cases.  Please consider contacting me to represent you in a lawsuit against the debt collector if this happens to you.

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Lies and Consequences

Debt collectors can't lie to you.  This is very a common violation.  Some debt collectors will say almost anything to get you to pay a debt.  They will say that they will report you to a credit reporting agency, get you thrown in jail, sue you, have the sheriff come out to see you at work, etc.... There are many common lies.  It is unlawful for a debt collector to make false threats or statements.  The problem for people is distinguishing between what is false and true.  Debt collectors sometimes sue, but this is unlikely unless they are calling from a local office.  Telling you that you will go to jail or that the police will come to see you is always a lie.  The problem with these cases is that there is often no third-party corroboration.  However, if you take very detailed notes, you might have a worthwhile case.

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Debt Collection Abuse

Debt collectors can not swear at you or say things to you that would make a normal person feel abused.

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Getting Sued

If you are getting sued by a law firm for debt, you have the right to take discovery from the plaintiff in accordance with applicable rules.  Through formal discovery you can determine, among other things, how the debt collector or creditor came up with the amount they are seeking.  Consumers can not get this information outside of a lawsuit.  However, discovery can be a very difficult and opaque process.  People who do it successfully often hire a lawyer.  Of course, this is expensive and beyond the financial means of many.  If you wish to read some of the rules applicable to lawsuits in Massachusetts, click here. If you are being sued in Boston or very close to Boston and have at least $2,000 upfront to pay towards a retainer, feel free to contact me regarding debt collection lawsuit defense.  Visit the contact page below for more information about this. If you are getting sued outside of the Boston area, try the Massachusetts Bar Lawyer Referral Service for a lawyer in your area.

Note: I am not currently taking FDCPA cases against debt collection law firms for perceived abuses in the litigation process.

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Any information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice or a complete explanation of any topic. Any person making an inquiry via this web site is advised that no attorney-client relationship will be formed without a signed written agreement.