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Loren, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  30 years experience representing clients.
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I spent a week in a private treatment center for alcoholism

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I spent a week in a private treatment center for alcoholism last year. They sent me home because my insurance ran out. I still owe them around $900, which I'm paying regularly since last November in $25 monthly payments, which is all I can do right now. They sent this to a collection agency, who told me that the treatment center is not letting them know when they got my payments, so they're entered as late or not received. They said if I sent the payment to them directly it would solve that problem. A week ago last Wednesday, I faxed them two canceled checks (one from the treatment center for August, one directly to the collection agency for September) and they still haven't credited me for the September payment that went directly to them. I receive letters every month from them saying I haven't held up my end of the agreement, which I have. Checks go out from my bank around the 6th of every month and are cashed by the recipients by the 12th of that month. I'm paying this because I don't want it to go against my credit but it appears it's going to anyway. What options do I have? Is there somewhere I can complain to about a collection agency and get results?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Loren replied 5 years ago.
You have rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. Under that law a debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not:

falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
misrepresent the amount you owe;
indicate that papers they send you are legal forms if they are not’t; or
indicate that papers they send to you are not’t legal forms if they are.

You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. If you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered because of the illegal collection practices, like lost wages and medical bills. The judge can require the debt collector to pay you up to $1,000, even if you can’t prove that you suffered actual damages. You also can be reimbursed for your attorney’s fees and court costs. A group of people also may sue a debt collector as part of a class action lawsuit and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector’s net worth, whichever amount is lower. Even if a debt collector violates the FDCPA in trying to collect a debt, the debt does not go away if you owe it.

Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General’s office ( and the Federal Trade Commission ( Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your Attorney General’s office can help you determine your rights under your state’s law.
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