Sequestration to Negatively Impact Over 500,000 Pennsylvanians Receiving Unemployment Benefits Starting April 1st

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Kimmel & Silverman warns financially vulnerable citizens to safeguard against more aggressive debt collection practices.

Credit Protection

Kimmel & Silverman

That’s why the FDCPA was created; to stop abusive conduct, penalize it and to empower consumers to have free legal counsel to go after the offending debt collector.

Beginning April 1st, the federal government has directed all states to reduce all emergency unemployment compensation payments by 10.7%, according to the Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits page. Presently, the maximum weekly benefit rate is $573 per week. With the mandated reductions, Pennsylvanians are now estimated to receive no more than $510. Consumer advocates say that the sequestration and mandatory benefit cuts create the perfect storm for debt collectors to take advantage of the financially vulnerable.

“Some of the worst stress can be instigated by debt collectors,” said Craig Thor Kimmel, Esq., cofounder and managing attorney of the consumer advocacy law firm Kimmel & Silverman. “Regardless of the circumstances, when bills go unpaid debt collectors start calling or writing and may ramp up their intensity in doing so, often with upsetting results. We are warning consumers to be aware and have a zero tolerance for harassment, abuse, threats or any uncivil behaviors prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, If victimized, immediately get free legal representation by a qualified consumer attorney.”

According to Kimmel, a large number of claims he handles under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) arise from debt collectors playing to consumers’ psychological vulnerabilities and sense of guilt arising from unemployment. The following have become practices debt collectors can or may utilize in times like these:

  •     threats of lawsuit or imprisonment
  •     use of obscene and intimidating language
  •     harassment of friends and family
  •     contacting former employer and co-workers
  •     adverse credit reporting
  •     threats of wage garnishment

“The strain of unemployment is a tough burden for anyone; compounding that stress with an obnoxious or overly aggressive debt collector can push people over the edge,” says Kimmel. “That’s why the FDCPA was created; to stop abusive conduct, penalize it and to empower consumers to have free legal counsel to go after the offending debt collector.”

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act was enacted by Congress and is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

Debt collectors cannot:

  •     Contact you after 8 p.m. or before 9 a.m.
  •     Threaten you with arrest, fines, wage garnishment, injury or death, or anything else
  •     Contact you at work if told it is not permitted or inconvenient
  •     Contact family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances for any other reason than to verify your current contact information and only if the collector has yet to speak with you
  •     Use obscene and vulgar language
  •     Communicate with a third party or child regarding a parent’s debt
  •     Contacting a consumer directly if it knows a lawyer has been retained to represent the consumer

Consumers have a right to:

  •     Request in writing the name of the original creditor, within 30 days of receipt of the first letter from the debt collector.
  •     Hire a lawyer to stop direct communication or calls from a debt collector
  •     Dispute the debt
  •     Request the collector cease and desist of all communications.

For more information on consumer protection law or how to protect yourself from identity theft, call. 1-800-NOT-FAIR (800-668-3247) for free legal help.

Craig Kimmel, Esquire
Co-founder, Managing Partner Kimmel & Silverman, P.C.
Since 1991, Kimmel & Silverman has fought for consumers.

Honored for its efforts by the American Bar Association (2002 Louis M. Brown Award For Public Access, Meritorious Recognition). Kimmel & Silverman has provided completely cost-free legal help to more than 75,000 consumers, often working with government officials to strengthen consumer statutes. The firms efforts have earned distinctions and awards, recognition as Super Lawyers by Law & Politics, and being named among Philadelphia Magazine's Best Law Firms in the Region among a few.

The firm and its attorneys have been featured on a regular basis in television, radio, magazine and newspaper stories bearing on consumer issues, including ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS & FOX affiliates across the nation; Good Morning America; Nightline; Fox & Friends, The CBS Early Show; Consumer Reports; the syndicated news program Extra; Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine; CNN; and USA Today.

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