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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3171
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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My husband and I have a small trucking business. We owe a

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My husband and I have a small trucking business. We owe a broker 16,000dollars for a cargo claim which I acknowledge I owe. In February we put 5,000 dollars down with the understanding of 1500 dollars a month until paid. Unfortunately I was unable to send the 1500 to this point. I called the broker on may 24 th and explained I will pay the debt but I couldn't afford the 1500 dollars a month. He was to call me in a couple weeks so I could tell him when and what I could send. He stated they would continue to work with us. On Thursday June 19 a very belligerent collector called us demanding an additional 7000 dollars for his services or they were going to levy our bank account. He wants 7500 down and 1600 a month until paid. If I couldn't afford 1500 a month I certainly can't afford that. Can a debt collector levy bank accounts I know government can but didn't know debt collectors could. What should I tell this guy. The original broker has not returned my phone calls. This all is supposed to place tomorrow which is also ridiculous. Help! Thanks Debbie

No one can levy your bank account until after you are sued and a judgment is rendered against you by a court. And it is actually illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for a debt collector to threaten to garnish wages or seize property unless they actually intend to do so. It is also illegal for a debt collector to ask for collection fees not provided for in your underlying contract (the contract you had regarding the cargo claim). It appears that the debt collector is just trying to scare you that he is personally going to levy your bank account which is not possible until after a judgment. In terms of what to tell the broker, I would tell him that you will continue to make payments, or you could negotiate some sort of settlement that would be satisfactory. Any sort of settlement agreement or payment plan, you should get in writing. Don't feel threatened by the debt collector; stay calm, stick to the facts, and try to work out a solution. I encourage you to read all the information in the link above about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act before you contact the debt collector to see what type of conduct is permitted by a debt collector. And if the debt collector is doing anything inappropriate I would bring this to his attention, and warn him that you will make a complaint under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

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