Debt Collection

New York Attorneys Advocating for Creditors’ Rights

A debt is a financial obligation through which one party becomes legally obligated to pay a certain sum of money (often with interest) to another party. Failing to pay a debt on time, as agreed, is a breach of this contractual obligation. Since many consumers and businesses fail to honor their duties and responsibilities, an entire industry has evolved to deal with the issue of collecting payments that are overdue. The knowledgeable New York debt collection lawyers at The Nathanson Law Firm LLP help creditors that are seeking to collect money that is owed by debtors. In our practice, we have found that many of our clients ask the following questions.

What is “consumer debt” and how does it differ from non-consumer debt?

The term “consumer debt” refers to loans that an individual or family incurs in order to meet the needs of the household. The distinction is in determining whether the collection of a particular debt is governed by certain federal and state laws, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and is regulated as a “Consumer Credit Transaction.”

Which types of collection efforts are forbidden by the FDCPA?

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., is designed to prevent “abusive” or “deceptive” debt collection practices, promote fairness, and provide consumers with a way to verify or dispute a particular account. Generally, the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from conduct such as calling the debtor prior to 8 AM or after 9 PM, calling a debtor repetitively with the intent to annoy or harass them, directly contacting a consumer who is known to have retained counsel, reporting false information on a debtor’s credit record, using profanity or abusive language, threatening legal action when the collector has no actual intent to file suit against the debtor, and engaging in similar tactics. Our debt collection attorneys can advise New York creditors and others in greater detail about strategies that are allowed within the guidelines and construct of the FDCPA, staying in full compliance at all times.

Who is covered under the FDCPA (i.e., what is a “debt collector” under federal law)?

The term “debt collector” is broadly defined for the purposes of the FDCPA and includes anyone who uses interstate commerce, including the mail, on a regular basis in an attempt to collect a debt owed by another party. As attorneys who regularly represent creditors in their attempts to locate and collect from debtors, we are thoroughly acquainted with the requirements of the FDCPA and carefully structure our practice in order to be in full compliance with the law.

We already have a judgment against the debtor, but it is from a court outside New York. Can you still help?

Yes. We can assist in the process of domesticating a sister state’s judgment by filing the appropriate paperwork in court. The process may vary in complexity, depending upon whether the sister state’s judgment was issued “on the merits” or a default judgment was entered. Once a properly domesticated judgment has been docketed in the New York court system, we use the latest technology and cutting-edge software to locate debtors and their assets within the state of New York so that we may enforce the judgment and execute upon the debtor’s assets.

How exactly do you execute upon a judgment in New York?

Article 52 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules identifies several enforcement mechanisms. Bank account proceeds above an exemption amount set by New York State are subject to restraint and may be levied upon. If a debtor works in New York, an income execution (wage garnishment) may be served upon the Sheriff or Marshal to levy upon the employer so that the creditor may collect a portion of the debtor’s earnings in payment of the debt. Not all income sources are subject to garnishment, however; Social Security, disability, unemployment, and workers’ compensation payments are exempt from execution. In addition, a judgment lien may be filed against any real property that the debtor owns in New York, and a property execution may be used to take possession of any personal property, such as cars or boats (subject to existing liens), which is owned by the debtor and located within the State of New York. Since New York is a “race/record” state and many debtors have more than one creditor, you must act quickly or risk waiting until a creditor with priority has been satisfied before you may collect!

How can I speak to a New York attorney about my debt collection matter?

The knowledgeable creditors’ rights attorneys at The Nathanson Law Firm LLP will be glad to talk to you about any additional questions that you may have. Just call us at 516-568-0000 or contact us online for more information, including fee arrangements and payment plans. Our New York debt collection lawyers are ready to help you explore the full range of your options.