By: Robert J. Nahoum
Two scenarios might have led you this article:
- You have just been notified by your bank that your account has been frozen because there is a debt collection judgment against you. You call the bank to find out what’s going on and are told to speak some law-firm called Houslanger & Associates.
- You’ve received a notice from your County Sheriff or a New York City Marshall that your wages will be garnisheed because there is a debt collection judgment against you. You call the Sheriff’s office to find out what’s going on and are told to speak some law-firm called Houslanger & Associates.
WHO IS HOUSLANGER & ASSOCIATES?:
Until recently, Houslanger & Associates was a little known New York debt collection law-firm; however, business has really picked up at Houslanger’s office recently. Houslanger & Associates has inherited a portfolio of thousands of debt collection judgments on behalf of the infamous junk debt buyer Palisades Collection, LLC. The judgments were first obtained many years ago by the debt collection mill Pressler and Pressler.
When Houslanger & Associates took over these judgments they likely provided with nothing more than a spreadsheet with the names of the debtors and details about the judgment. They may not have “files” to speak of. That means they may be freezing bank accounts and garnisheeing wages without ever having seen how the debtor was served with the court papers and how the judgments were obtained.
Law-firm debt collectors like Houslanger & Associates allegedly employ few attorneys but many non-attorney debt collection agents. In fact, if you call them, you will likely not speak with an attorney, but you will instead probably speak with a debt collection agent who may be incentivized by commissions or bonuses for any money he or she collects from you.
Houslanger & Associates and Palisades Collection have been sued by consumers for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA is a federal law that regulates the collection of consumer debts. It precludes third party debt collectors from using false, misleading, deceptive and harassing debt collection tactics. If a debt buyer or its attorney violates the FDCPA, you can sue for statutory damages up to $1,000.00 plus actual damages (like pain and suffering) and your attorney’s fees.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
The reason you are just learning of the judgment now is that you were probably never served properly with the court papers many years ago when the lawsuit was first filed. New York laws require that when a debt collection lawsuit is filed, a process server must deliver the lawsuit to you or someone at your home. The process server signs an affidavit saying that they delivered the papers to you (usually by the “nail and mail” method where they supposedly post the papers to the door of your home and then mail you a copy). In reality, the process server probably never delivered the papers to you at all (called “sewer service”) and so you never knew about the case.
Fortunately, New York courts have recognized that default judgments are highly questionable particularly due to the pervasiveness of sewer service. For this reason, it is pretty uncomplicated to have the default judgment reversed or “vacated” as it is called. To do so, you must make a motion to the court called an “order to show cause” to vacate the default judgment.
If Houslanger & Associates and Palisades Collection are enforcing a default judgment against you, consider hiring a qualified attorney experienced in debt defense. As with all debt defense cases, a good debt defense lawyer analyzes debt collection cases to determine if any violations of the FDCPA have occurred.
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. With office located in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Rockland County, the Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum defends consumers in debt collection cases throughout the Tristate area including New Jersey.
The Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum, P.C