Good morning, thank you for your question.
First, you don't get served with a summons for a felony, so if that's what they told you, they're just misleading you. Yes, they could report this as theft
, but the reality is that most of these payday loan/cash advance cases aren't criminal
in nature, because that requires intent. Unless you purposely took out the money knowing you were never going to pay it back, it's not theft.
Of course, any creditor can sue you and try to get a civil judgment against you. Then once they get a judgment, they can garnish wages, etc., to satisfy it. But, a creditor is not
permitted under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act to threaten you with a lawsuit, or to threaten you with criminal charges as that violates the law and you can file a complaint
and/or sue for damages. You also have the right to contact the company and tell them not to contact you again.
You can write a letter to the agency telling it not to contact you by phone, not to call at certain times or locations, or not to make any further contact at all. This last request does entitle the collector to contact you one more time to inform you of what, if any, action it intends to take to collect the debt, but not to threaten you.
You should send such a letter by certified mail and request a return receipt. If the company has a fax number, send the letter by both fax and by mail. Understand, telling the collection agency not to contact you should stop the phone calls, but it won't stop the collection efforts.
If you have exhausted all strategies in dealing with the debt collector and the collector continues to use illegal, unfair and abusive practices, you may file a complaint, sue the collector, or both.
- Federal Trade Commission. (www.ftc.gov) The FTC is the government agency that enforces the FDCPA. It may bring an action in federal district court against a debt collector that violates the law. Understandably, the agency does not have the resources to bring a court action on behalf of an individual or against every collector about which it receives a complaint. But the agency can and does take action against the most egregious offenders.
The FTC's primary source of information about abusive collection practices is through consumer complaints. It offers an online complaint form on its web site, www.ftc.gov.
The FDCPA allows individuals and class action plaintiffs to sue in federal or state court within a year of the violation. Under the FDCPA, if you win, you may recover actual damages plus up to $1,000. Attorney fees and court costs may also be recovered.
There are many private practice attorneys who specialize in assisting consumers who have experienced violations of state and federal debt collection laws. The web site of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, www.naca.net
, provides a directory of member attorneys. The search process enables you to find attorneys near you and to specify those with debt collection experience, http://members.naca.net/findanattorney/
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