Mother Wins $7,500 After Suing Debt Collector

Mayling, mother of two, says she was inspired by Consumerist stories and when a harassing debt collector wouldn’t stop calling her family, she took matters into her own hands. With a 6 month-old and a toddler in tow, she sued them in small claims court and won $7,500. This is her story.

Mayling writes:

I was inspired by your website and took action.

After my husband and I moved to our current address approx 3 years ago, we began receiving calls from a collection company regarding a former relative. I repeatedly told them to leave us alone and to stop calling our home. However, they continued to call never identifying themselves and often times claiming to be other types of businesses. The call often degraded to threats, insults and outright lies, outright harassment, for a debt that was not even ours. We were never able to figure out who they were, as they wouldn’t provide us with id. Aside from that our phone company was unable to help us without a court order.

Then in November of 2010, I got another call this time, the person that called assumed she was talking to whom they were looking for, and provided me with the company’s name. During this entire time she was rude and mocking until she realized her mistake and hung up on me without providing further information. However the name was enough for me to locate a number.

I called them back and asked to be removed from their list, they were rude and hung up on me. I also wrote a letter. Lo and behold we got another call a day day later just as bad as ever. I rewrote my letter and mailed it out, and filed a suit that same day. Which was no easy feat as I had to walk into a packed courthouse with a toddler and a 6-month-old child.

The following week we continued to receive calls even though the lawsuit had already been received (it was mailed certified mail) not to mention our previous letter. We had filed for our state max in small claims $7,500. We continued to receive calls until mid-December when they finally contacted us to say that they would stop calling and to drop the suit, to which we said no. They requested an extension which the court granted, this worked to our advantage as we were able to gather more evidence and be better prepared. In January we had our hearing, and won the full amount.

They then got attorneys who demanded that we settle for 2,000 or they would appeal. We again refused and told them we would see them in court. They filed an appeal and a hearing date was set. We prepared ourselves, deciding to forgo an attorney after discussing the case with one. However, two days before the hearing we received a notice from them informing us that they would not pursue the appeal and would be paying us. We received the money in April. This was our little moment of victory. Collection companies have no right to harass anyone. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is very clear regarding calls to people other than debtor.

Good job, Mayling! You’re right, harassing phone calls by debt collectors are a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (learn more about it here) and you can sue them for statutory damages. Good on you on getting one of their reps to give up the name of the company. You’ll need that and their address in order to file a claim against them.

It’s not hard to file a case in small claims court like Mayling did. Here’s how to do it. And here’s a state-by-state listing of resources for filing.