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A debt collection attorney is a lawyer that specializes in matters regarding unpaid accounts. They are often employed by major creditors, such as credit card companies, to collect unpaid debts from customers, but can also be employed by debtors. Some individuals choose to employ a debt collection attorney when they find themselves in difficult financial situations, such as when they are preparing to file for bankruptcy or when they are being sued.
Debt collection attorneys can be used by both parties when financial disputes arise. The attorneys are often able to tell whether it would be more profitable to pursue litigation or to use credit counseling to ease the anxieties of both parties. In some cases, they may even advocate for the discharge of debt or a restructured payment plan.
A debt collection attorney differs from an agent at a collection agency in a few key ways. Most importantly, collection agencies operate solely on behalf of creditors. This means that debtors cannot employ a collection agency to help them assert their legal rights. Many collection agencies are in-house finance branches of major corporations, such as credit card companies.
Often, a collection agency represents the first stage in the debt-collection cycle. Once the debt collection process has moved past the expertise of the collection agency, it is handed off to a specially trained debt collection attorney to pursue legal action. Some companies, however, choose to use attorneys at the beginning of the debt collection process in order to make concerns appear more serious.
When creditors employ debt collection lawyers, they often do so as a last resort. Large corporations use debt attorneys to assert creditor rights to asset collection when the debt becomes unmanageable. Debt collection attorneys, when in the service of the creditor, are able to use legal terminology that typically is unfamiliar to common citizens to collect debt. In extreme cases, they may even petition the court to garnish wages or sell valuable liquid assets.
It is also possible for debtors to employ a debt collection attorney on their own behalf. Debtors that use debt attorneys often do so when they are being sued by major creditors. If the amount of the debt is large, most legal systems require that an individual employ a lawyer in order to appear before a bankruptcy judge. In these cases, debt collection attorneys represent their clients by using their specialized knowledge about debts and assets.
@Melonlity -- If a debt collector doesn't want to follow the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the company that employs that person ought to fire him or her in a hurry. That is, after all, federal collection law and must be followed.
I don't agree that attorneys should be involved in the debt collections process from the beginning because that can drive up costs in a hurry. Attorneys don't work for cheap and it is not fair to slap that extra expense on a consumer. Often, those folks will have enough trouble playing the underlying debt. Don't kick them while they're down by adding attorneys fees to an already sizable debt.
The solution, I think, is to pay an attorney to teach debt collectors on the fine points of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and to maybe check on the operation from time to time to make sure employees are doing what they should be doing.
It is probably better for consumers if a debt collections attorney is involved in the process from the beginning. Why? An attorney should know the ins and outs of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act and what can and can't be done when it comes to debt collecting.
A non-attorney might not know the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (or might not care about following it) and could land his company in legal trouble from the beginning.