Consumers who are dealing with debt collectors may want to check with several free resources provided by governmental agencies before contacting an attorney. The FTC publishes an excellent resource at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0149-debt-collection. In addition, many state-level Attorneys General publish consumer-friendly resources. For example, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office has http://ago.mo.gov/consumercomplaints/topten/index.htm available to consumers. It is possible to file a short and simple complaint against a debt collector online at the Attorney General’s website.
Consumers should know that if they consult with a debt collection attorney, they should not be required to pay anything up front to the attorney. The FDCPA’s fee statute, 15 U.S.C. 1692k (you can see the full statute here: http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-debt-collection-practices-act-text) allows a consumer to collect a statutory penalty of up to $1,000 and the debt collector, not the consumer, is responsible for paying the consumer’s attorney.