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Dealing with Americollect Debt Collectors? Here’s How to Get Relief

What is Americollect?

Americollect is a debt collection agency – they buy unpaid debts from creditors, then try to collect the money from consumers. They’re one of the bigger players, operating nationwide. If you’ve got debt with credit cards, medical bills, or other unsecured loans, there’s a chance Americollect could come after you.Now, debt collectors have to follow certain rules under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). But many play fast and loose with the law – using harassment, threats, and other shady tactics to squeeze money out of people. Americollect has been accused of violations by consumer watchdogs and hit with lawsuits over their aggressive collection methods.So if Americollect is harassing you, know that you have rights – and options to make them back off. Here’s what you need to know.

Your Rights Against Abusive Debt Collectors

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from doing things like:

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  • Calling you before 8am or after 9pm
  • Contacting you at work if you’ve told them not to
  • Using profane language or threats of violence
  • Lying about the amount you owe
  • Discussing your debt with others without permission
  • Continuing to call if you send a cease and desist letter

If a collector violates these rules, you can sue them in federal court. Damages can add up to $1,000 plus attorney fees and court costs. The FTC has more details on your rights under the FDCPA.

How to Stop Americollect Harassment

The first step is to send Americollect a debt validation letter within 30 days of first contact. This forces them to prove you actually owe the debt. Many times, they can’t – either because of errors, expired statutes of limitation, or because the debt isn’t yours.Next, send a cease and desist letter telling them to stop all communication. By law, they have to stop calling you, except to confirm they’re done or to notify you of legal action. Make sure to send this by certified mail so you have proof.If the harassment continues after that, start a paper trail – note every violation with dates, times, names of reps, and details of what was said. This documentation will be crucial if you decide to sue.You can also file complaints with:

  • Your state attorney general’s office
  • The FTC
  • The CFPB

Getting the authorities involved puts more pressure on Americollect to back off.

Dealing with Americollect Lawsuits

If Americollect does sue you over the debt, don’t panic – you have strong defenses, especially if the debt is past the statute of limitations in your state. That’s the time period creditors have to sue, usually 3-6 years for most debts.Respond to the lawsuit with a written “answer” laying out your defenses. Potential defenses include:

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  • Lack of documentation proving you owe the debt
  • Violation of the statute of limitations
  • Mistaken identity – the debt isn’t actually yours
  • Bankruptcy discharge if the debt was included

You’ll need to show up for court dates and potentially go to trial. Having a consumer lawyer on your side is highly recommended, as they know all the legal procedures and defenses to use against unscrupulous collectors like Americollect.

Should You Pay Americollect?

Whether you should pay or not depends on your situation. If the debt is valid and you can afford payments, it may be worth settling to get it off your back. But tread carefully – get any settlement agreement in writing first, and get removal of the debt from your credit reports as a condition.If the debt is bogus, very old, or you can’t afford payments, don’t be bullied into paying. Americollect may threaten consequences like garnished wages or a damaged credit score. But in reality, they have to sue you first and get a court judgment before taking further action.

Negotiating With Americollect

If you do decide to pay, don’t agree to the full amount right away. Americollect likely bought your debt for pennies on the dollar, so they have room to settle for less. A good target is 25-50% of the outstanding balance.Get any settlement deal in writing first, with clear terms on the total amount, payment schedule, and the debt being closed out permanently after final payment. Never give them access to your bank accounts or debit cards.

When to Hire a Lawyer

For serious debt issues like impending lawsuits or garnishments, it’s wise to hire a consumer lawyer. They can assert your rights, fight improper collection practices, and potentially settle all your debts for a lump sum through debt settlement or bankruptcy.Look for lawyers who specialize in FDCPA, debt settlement, or bankruptcy. Check ratings on sites like AvvoLawInfo, and FindLaw. Many offer free consultations so you can discuss your options.

Taking Care of Your Credit

While dealing with debt collectors, keep an eye on your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. Dispute any errors you find, like debts listed as still owed after being settled or discharged in bankruptcy.You’re also entitled to debt validation from the credit bureaus. If they can’t verify the debt is really yours, they have to remove it from your reports. This helps protect your credit scores from taking a hit.

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The Bottom Line

Debt collectors like Americollect have a track record of shady, harassing behavior. But you have rights under the FDCPA – exercise them by sending debt validation and cease and desist letters. If they keep violating the law, take them to court.

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