Is Legal Mediation Practice calling you? Here’s what you need to know.
Financial hardships are incredibly stressful. Whether you owe money to credit cards, student loans, medical providers, or mortgage lenders, it’s always upsetting when the original creditors assign the accounts to a third-party debt collector. Calls and letters from these agencies can make an already-bad situation nearly unbearable.
Debt collector harassment has resulted in so many marriage breakdowns, personal bankruptcies, and illness that in 1977 the US Congress stepped in and passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA. Under this federal law, deceptive and abusive tactics like the following are illegal:
- Swearing, yelling, and making threats they cannot legally carry out
- Calling repeatedly to annoy or harass someone, or use an auto-dialer for the same purpose
- Failing to identify themselves as debt collectors seeking to collect a debt
- Calling at inconvenient times, such as before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. in the consumer’s time zone.
- Contacting someone at work when their employer does not allow such calls
- Talking about the debt with anyone except the consumer, their spouse, or an attorney they’ve engaged to represent them regarding the debt
Alleged Violations against Legal Mediation Practice, Inc*
Some debt collectors, however choose to forget the rules or disregard them entirely.
Legal Mediation Practice, Inc is a collection agency located in Jacksonville, Florida. It was established in 2003, employs a staff of around 40 people, and specializes in collecting delinquent payday loans. A search of the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website turns up several cases involving Legal Mediation Practice, Inc and alleged violations of the FDCPA.
Carol Wessman v. Legal Mediation Practice (Case 3:08-cv-00111-RLW, from United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division)
In late February or early March 2007, Virginia resident Carol Wessman started getting calls from debt collectors employed by Legal Mediation Practice regarding an outstanding payday loan with Checksmart. During one call, a debt collector allegedly told Ms. Wessman that she had three hours to send $400 by Moneygram or Western Union, or they would “deal with you at your home or job.”
Frightened, she asked what they meant, but they allegedly refused to answer her. Ms. Wessman was so afraid that she appealed to the Virginia House of Delegates member Johnny S. Joannou, who her husband knew.
The complaint that her attorney filed with the US District Court accused Legal Mediation Practice of the following FDCPA violations:
- Failing to provide her with the legally required disclosure notice (15 U.S.C. 1692e(11))
- Engaging in harassing and abusive conduct (15 U.S.C. 1692d)
- Using obscene and profane language (15 U.S.C. 1692d(2))
- Using false or misleading methods to collect a debt (15 U.S.C. 1692e)
- Threatening action that it could not legally take (15 U.S.C. 1692e(5))
The suit was later settled.
The phone number associated with Legal Mediation Practice, Inc is (904) 388-7929. If you see a call come in from this number, be aware that a debt collector from that agency is trying to contact you about settling a debt.
If the collector at any time uses aggressive or abuse language and implies that they will come around to your home or place of business, contact a consumer attorney immediately. Threats and other forms of intimidation are illegal under the FDCPA, and if you take the agency to court, you could win up to $1,000 per FDCPA violation as well as actual damages and litigation-related fees. Being in debt is stressful enough without being harassed, and any debt collectors who break the law could end up paying you, not the other way around.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 3:08-cv-00111-RLW, from United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Legal Mediation Practice, Inc or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.