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What is a Debt Collection Attorney?

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In a Nutshell

A debt collection attorney is a type of attorney who specializes in debt collection. They can represent either creditors or borrowers, so it is smart to find a debt collection attorney who specializes in a practice area specific to your type of case. While a debt collection attorney cannot make your debt disappear, they can help you navigate the debt collection process and protect your legal rights. Keep in mind, though, that hiring a lawyer will be an additional cost to you.

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated April 20, 2023

What Is a Debt Collection Attorney?

Debt collection attorneys specialize in debt collection laws and lawsuits. If a debt collector sues you for an unpaid debt, you can hire a debt collection attorney to represent you. The company that owns the debt may also hire a debt collection lawyer to represent them. 

Having an attorney on your side can help relieve your stress and provide guidance in navigating the legal situation. That said, you can also represent yourself in a debt collection lawsuit.

If you are a borrower who feels like a creditor is unlawfully harassing you, you might also consider a consumer protection attorney. If you choose to hire either type of attorney, keep in mind that you will have to pay attorney fees.

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What Is a Debt Collection Lawsuit?

Creditors or debt collection agencies may take legal action and file debt collection lawsuits against borrowers who have not paid the debt they owe. If someone files a debt collection lawsuit against you, you will be notified by letter (typically referred to as a demand letter). The demand letter is often sent by mail, but it may also be delivered in person. 

As stated above, you can always choose to represent yourself. If you do represent yourself, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your case and prepare your defense and response to the lawsuit. 

You’ll also want to make sure you know your rights under federal law. Creditors and debt collectors must follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If they don’t, document the issues or violations you believe occurred to present in court. 

If you choose to hire a debt collection attorney, they will do this for you.

Debt Collection Lawsuits and Default Judgements 

If you have a debt collection lawsuit filed against you and you do not respond immediately, the creditor may get a default judgment. Judgment orders can be scary. They may remain on your credit report for 10 years and can result in a wage garnishment order.

If you ignore a court-ordered judgment, it will only add to your debt. The creditor you owe money to can file a judgment lien. Depending on the case, this may allow them to garnish your wages, foreclose on your home if you own it (or any real estate you own), or levy your bank account

There is no guarantee that a debt collection attorney can prevent the court from issuing a judgment, but an attorney can help you navigate legal issues.

What Is a Debt Collection Agency?

Lenders and creditors often hire a debt collection agency to deal with borrowers who are past due on payments and haven’t responded to requests to catch up. The debt collectors who work for these agencies then try to recover the money you owe the lender. 

These agencies have to follow the legal practices set by the FDCPA, but debt collection agencies are well known for being aggressive in their repayment and collection efforts. 

If a debt collection agency, or a specific debt collector, is continuously contacting you, hiring a debt collection lawyer may be a good option for you. They can provide assistance and legal services to protect you and your rights as you go through a lawsuit. 

Filing Bankruptcy for Debt Relief 

If you’re drowning in debt you can’t repay and are dealing with the stress of debt collectors contacting you, you may want to explore Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Our nonprofit, Upsolve, has created a free filing tool for those looking to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy without retaining a lawyer. We can help you with your bankruptcy forms, and an attorney will review the forms before you file them with the bankruptcy court in your area. 

How Does Filing Bankruptcy Help With Debt Collection Lawsuits? 

When you file for bankruptcy, you get the protection of an automatic stay. The automatic stay tells your creditors and debt collectors that they can’t try to collect on the debts listed in your bankruptcy case. It will also halt a debt collection lawsuit.

If you’re like the majority of Chapter 7 filers, you’ll receive a discharge, which can help you get rid of debts like judgments, credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, and other consumer debts. 

The great news is that you do not have to hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy relief. Many Chapter 7 filers choose to represent themselves and do so successfully.

If you choose to go down the bankruptcy path, our team of experts is here to help you navigate your way through the process for free!

Written By:

Jonathan Petts


Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and CEO of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in bankrupt... read more about Jonathan Petts

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