Tuesday Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.
A debt collection agency froze your bank account and you didnt know about it? And you never got served? Just something in the mail months after a judgment had been entered against you? You’re kidding!
Welcome to the world of debt collection in Brooklyn. Far be it from me to say whether or not service was correct, but I literally have hundreds of clients that have called me with the same problem. Out of nowhere, their bank accounts have been frozen by debt collection agencies. Many of my clients in my Sheepshead Bay office also have social security payments going into these accounts, making it completely illegal for creditors to freeze the accounts, but they do so anyway.
So let’s say you’re someone with a job in Brooklyn and you realize your account has been frozen. What do you do with the debt collection agency? You call them, they say they have your money and you owe the debt and to pay up because they are just going to collect it anyway?
Not a chance. Get a lawyer. Do it yourself. Whatever is preferable to you, but you need to understand that as cliche as it sounds for a lawyer to say this… you have rights.
They can’t just freeze your account without serving you properly in New York City. And guess what? Many of these firms don’t have the documentation at times to back up collecting the actual debt itself. It’s not as if Citibank can call a debt collector and say, “Hey John Smith owes us $2,000. Go collect.” It doesnt work that way.
Debt collection is heavily regulated, even though I’d say most debt collectors do not follow the rules. You need to realize that before you listen to the things they tell you, or the rights they claim to have, you have ways of fighting back. You can request something called validation of a debt, which they are required to provide you. If they don’t provide you with this you can technically, in some instances, get the entire case dismissed.
You can also go down to Kings County Civil Court and file an Order to Show Cause with the Court (without a lawyer if you can’t afford one). The clerks will actually help you fill one out. You can negotiate the sum due. Just make sure you take a step back, speak to someone, and then decide before losing your hard earned money, because many times what these debt collectors are doing is not in line with New York laws.
Daniel Gershburg Esq., is a real estate and bankruptcy attorney with offices in Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan. The practice was specifically set up to change the way people view attorneys, by incorporating radical ideas like calling people back quickly, returning emails, giving clients ’round the clock access to their cases and charging low fees. For more information please visit Brooklyn Real Estate Attorney Daniel Gershburg‘s website.