If your identity is stolen, most of the damage done is financial. Since most of us have financial accounts and information spread all over, it can take a long time to sort out all the fraudulent activity. It’s like picking staples out of a huge carpet. There is not much help available to victims of identity theft, either. You are mostly on your own when it comes to cleaning up the mess.
The FTC just made it a little bit easier, though, with a set of resources to help victims of identity theft figure out what to do. It’s Taking Charge: What to Do if Your Identity is Stolen PDF walks you through the process of discovering the identity theft, doing immediate damage control, placing a fraud alert on your account, freezing your credit, and so on.
The Volunteer Lawyers Network receives lots of calls from Minnesota consumers who have debt collection problems. It has helped many people dealing with debt collection, but it cannot represent consumers with FDCPA claims because VLN is not able to represent plaintiffs. In order to get those consumers the help they need, VLN just released a tool to help consumers get a list of consumer lawyers who can help them.
If you think you have an FDCPA claim, you can use VLN’s FDCPA screening form to self-screen and get a list of consumer rights lawyers drawn from the NACA consumer lawyer directory) who may be able to help you.
Since I started Caveat Emptor, I have written many articles on debt collection, but I have never gathered them all in one place. Now, I have. The Debt Collection Help resource page is the first of several resource pages I am working on that will pull together my best posts in one convenient place.
Getting called or served with a lawsuit by a collector is a pain, at best. You can help yourself deal with debt collection with free information and tools online, but not everything you find will actually help. Here is a selection of resources that will:
- If you are contacted or sued by a debt collector, use these form letters, pleadings, guides, and reference materials to learn how to record your phone calls and respond appropriately;
- Debt collection cheatsheet: what collectors can and cannot do;
- Help dealing with a case of debt collection and mistaken identity;
- Follow these guidelines for negotiating with a debt collector; and
- Avoid these mistakes when dealing with a debt collection lawsuit.
Finally, you can get debt collection help from a lawyer. Most consumer rights lawyers will give you a free case evaluation, and may be able to represent you on contingency, so that you pay nothing unless the collector pays you.