This is a continuation of the original post entitled “If I Can’t Pay My Bills, How Can I Afford to Pay My Bankruptcy Attorney”.
As was discussed in the original post cited above, it is frequently difficult for those in need of bankruptcy relief to afford to retain a bankruptcy attorney. The original post stopped at the point where we were beginning to discuss the implications of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in this context.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is federal legislation aimed at protecting consumers from those debt collectors who pursue their jobs a bit too “vigorously”. The penalty for a violation of the Act is statutory damages of $1,000 plus attorneys fees and costs. A consumer need not prove actual damages or harm in order to establish a violation, and there are very few, if any, defenses available to the debt collector. The FDCPA is based upon sound public policy. I recommend the website, MyFairDebt, as a fairly comprehensive source of FDCPA information.
The FDCPA is very germane to consumers who are facing the necessity of bankruptcy due to the fact that they have likely been subjected to collection efforts and likely have a stack of collection letters sitting at home. As a consumer who is need of a prompt bankruptcy filing but who is unable to afford the process, you may want to consult with your attorney to see if he or she would be willing to review the collection materials you have amassed for any potential violations.
If an FDCPA violation is discovered and successfully prosecuted against the offending collector or collection agency, you may be able to apply the settlement or award to the cost of your bankruptcy.
So, let’s summarize the ground we have covered thus far with this topic. In the initial post, we introduced the problem at hand, i.e., the high cost of a bankruptcy case, as well as one potential solution — the diversion of some funds from payment to unsecured creditors for the purpose of paying for your bankruptcy filing. In this post, we have focused on the impact of a successfully prosecuted FDCPA case upon your ability to afford a bankruptcy filing.
Two other possibilities apply to those of you who have low to moderate incomes. I have already posted about both of these opportunities for low income debtors. Read on:
Bankruptcy Filing Fees May be Waived for Low Income Debtors
What If I Can’t Afford a Bankruptcy Lawyer to Stop a Foreclosure, Repossession or Eviction?