Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) we have accumulated over the years from clients to help you gain a better understanding of the situation you may find your business in at this time.
Attorneys who handle debt collection cases can charge in a number of different ways. Typically, they either charge on a time and expense basis or on a contingency. It is not unusual to see the combination of the two utilized. In many instances, in a time and expense or a combination arrangement, a retainer is in most instances always required. If they are charging on a pure contingency fee basis, there is a fee only if there is a recovery.
Under both arrangements, the client is typically responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses which should be limited to filing fees, if a Complaint is necessary.
There are a number of steps that a debt collection attorney will take in an effort to recover on an account. Typically, it starts with a letter, the filing of a Complaint, a hearing, an Award, reducing the Award to a Judgment, and executing on the Judgment. The hardest part of the case is executing on the Judgment or getting money from the debtor. Read here for more helpful information.
You can answer that question for yourself. If you have not had any responses to letters that you written, then you need another method. Oftentimes one goes to a collection agency first and if they have been ineffective, then you eventually end up retaining a lawyer for your collections. Through this process, the debt gets old as you attempt to collect through various efforts and the older the debt becomes, the more difficult it is to recover.
Because an attorney can immediately file a Complaint and start the legal process, it is often best to start there. Read here for more helpful information.
By the time you have received a letter from a collection agency, your debt has probably been reported to the credit bureaus. If you ignore a collection agency, they will certainly report you to a credit bureau if they haven’t already. Other than write letters and make phone calls and reporting to a credit bureau, they cannot act in the capacity of a lawyer to legally pursue the debt.
You will receive letters, be reported to a credit bureau, and receive constant phone calls from the agency.
However, the collection agency itself cannot file a lawsuit against you.
A debt collection agency attempts to collect the debt through writing letters, making phone calls and reporting to the credit bureau.
Typically, no. Once the debt has been assigned to a collection agency, they are the ones who own the debt and payments need to be made to the collection agency. If you do pay the original creditor, there is no guarantee that the money will come back over to the collection agency and they can continue to pursue you.
Judgments in Pennsylvania are valid for a five year time period.
They can be revived every five years.
A debt collection case can arise from a breach of either a written or verbal contract or agreement. In Pennsylvania, there is a four year statute of limitations from when the party knew or had reason to know or should have known of the breach. However, if a payment on a debt is received after it arose, it can extend the statute of limitations from the time that the last payment was made.
Obtaining a Judgment is one of the steps in the process. Obtaining a Judgment is generally not difficult to do because it is presumed that the debtor owes the money. Once you have obtained an Award, you have to reduce that to a Judgment. Once the debt is reduced to a Judgment, you begin the execution process which can be accomplished through: 1) Garnish and Seizing bank accounts, 2) Garnish money owed from third parties, 3) Sheriff levy on personal property of the debtor, including vehicles, boats and motorcycles, 4) Sheriff levy and sale of personal and business property, 5) Foreclosure of real estate. Read more about our collection process here, this will help.