By: Robert J. Nahoum
Debt collectors usually sue consumers in the courts where the consumer lives. This is true because the law requires. However, from time-to-time, there are debt collection lawyers out there that file suits in locations other than where the consumer lives to suit its own needs. This is not allowed.
In legal jargon, the term “venue” refers to the proper geographic place where a court can hear a case. Under federal debt collection laws known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA for short), a debt collection lawsuit may be brought “only in the judicial district or similar legal entity in which [the] consumer resides at the commencement of the action” or where the “consumer signed the contract sued upon.”
When enacting the FDCPA, Congress intended to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by collection agencies and other debt collectors. Among the abusive practices that Congress intended the FDCPA to eliminate was the “problem of ‘forum abuse,’ an unfair practice in which debt collectors file suit against consumers in courts which are so distant or inconvenient that consumers are unable to appear,” thus allowing the debt collector to win a default judgment.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
If you’ve been sued on a consumer debt in a county, town, city or state where you don’t live, speak with a qualified consumer protection attorney. Your attorney might be able to have the case thrown out or at least transferred to a proper venue. Also, you may have a case under the FDCPA for venue abuse. 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 flip the script and sue the debt collector for violating your rights as a consumer. Best of all, 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.
The Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum, P.C