I recently sued a debt collection agency and one of its collectors for violating the FDCPA. The collector made some illegal threats to my client. The threats weren’t the worst I’ve ever heard of, but my client was dealing with some other things in his life and was pretty shaken up by them.
Right after they were served with our FDCPA suit, I got a call from the individual collector I had sued. He must have been really nervous during the call because he kept fumbling over his words and repeating himself. His voice faltered a few times. He told me that this was the first time that the agency had been sued and that they wanted to do the right thing and take care of the FDCPA lawsuit. He said that they were a small agency with only four employees, that their cash flow was tight, and that they were having a hard time making payroll. He made a settlement offer that was significantly lower than what I would typically settle the case for and asked if I would allow them to split the settlement amount into smaller monthly payments. He said that was really the best that they could do under the circumstances and that anything more would put them in a big financial bind. Based on my research of this agency, I believe that what he was telling me was largely true. There’s no doubt in my mind that he was genuinely shaken up by getting sued. I felt bad for him.
I don’t usually take any personal satisfaction in suing a debt collector. I really don’t. But this situation was different. Although the irony was probably lost on the collector, I recognized it immediately. He finally experienced how a consumer feels when she gets sued by a debt collector. He experienced the shock of being served with a lawsuit and felt the stress of having to figure out how to pay on a tight budget. He worried about how the lawsuit would affect his ability to keep the company afloat. He begged me to be reasonable and accept a lower amount than I would normally take. I just hope he remembers how scared he felt the next time he is tempted to bully a consumer into paying a debt that she can’t afford to pay.
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