By: Robert J. Nahoum
You’re out of work, fallen on hard times and your only income is from unemployment benefits. Now you’re being harassed or sued by a debt collector who has threatened to take your unemployment benefits. Can he get away with it?
Under federal debt collection laws known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA for short), a debt collector cannot threaten to take action it does not actually intend to take or that it cannot legally take.
The law recognizes that those who have fallen on hard times should not be left destitute. For this reason, there are some assets which are exempt from collection and therefore beyond the reach of debt collectors. Included in those exemptions are:
- Public Assistance;
- Supplemental Security Income;
- Social Security;
- Social Security Disability;
- Veterans benefits;
- Child Support;
- Spousal Maintenance;
- Workers Compensation;
- Unemployment Insurance;
- Public and private pensions;
- Retirement saving accounts (like (401(k), 403(b), and Individual Retirement Accounts);
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
If a debt collector has threatened or attempted to garnishee your unemployment or other exempt assets it might have violated FDCPA. If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you can sue the debt collector for statutory damages up to $1,000.00, actual damages (like pain and suffering) and the debt collector may have to pay for your attorney.
What does this mean for you? The FDCPA gives consumers the power to swing the pendulum in the other direction and call the debt collector to the mat for violating your rights as a consumer. Best of all, if you’re successful, the debt collector may have to pay for your attorney.
If you need help settling or defending a debt collection law suit, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you.