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Debt Collector Crusader Craig Cunningham in Dallas Observer

When I wanted to run a series on fighting debt collectors, I knew I wanted an expert. I was fortunate to have little in the way of debt (just a mortgage and student loans) so I had no personal experience with combating with debt collectors, but I knew someone on Fatwallet, Codename47, was a debt collector ninja. I had seen all his posts, how he helped people deal with unscrupulous debt collectors, and I knew he was our guy.

I, and hopefully you, weren’t disappointed. I called him the real deal before he wrote a single post, that’s how confident I was, and after the series was complete, I think we can all agree.

Recently, Craig was in an article by Kimberly Thorpe for the Dallas Observer. In it, we get a better understanding of why Craig has so much insight (bad bets and a lot of research!) and how people like him are fighting back against the system.

As you read his story, there are two things I hope you to notice – he never plays the victim and he never blames anyone for his debt. He took some bets that turned out badly and now is simply playing the game by the rules, catching debt collectors with their pants down.

I, for one, am glad to see a “little” guy giving the big bad debt collectors a run for their money. Serves them and their predatory practices right.


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How to Sue Debt Collectors

Lawyer BooksNow that you are aware of what happens when debt collectors violate the FDCPA and you have some recorded phone calls, credit reporting violations, and false or misleading statements by a collector, what do you do then?

You sue them.

Nothing gets a company’s attention like slapping them with a lawsuit. As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until someone gets sued.

From here, you have two choices and both will take you to the courthouse:

  • You can retain a lawyer to represent you, or,
  • Do it yourself.

I’ll explain both.

(Click to continue reading…)


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Understanding 1st Party and 3rd Party Collectors

I have been following the How to Fight Debt Collectors series and noticed that the articles are all geared towards third party collections. For 3 years, I worked as a first party collector in the collections department for a mortgage company.

During that time, I learned a lot about debt, people, and collection law. I did some things that may have been considered shady but I never broke the law. The reason is in the distinction between 1st party and 3rd party collections.

(Click to continue reading…)


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What are Junk Debt Buyers?

So many bills!Junk Debt Buyers, also called JDB’s, engage in the business of buying distressed assets at pennies on the dollar and then try to collect on that debt. Sometimes they try to go after the full amount, sometimes they’ll accept a settlement amount of 50% or less. It’s not a bad business to be in, except they suffer from one very crucial weakness a smart debt collection fighter knows. When challenged, they can rarely obtain any sufficient documentation of the debt. In other words, they can’t validate the debt after someone has sent a debt dispute letter!

(Click to continue reading…)


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When Debt Collectors Violate the FDCPA

DebtAs we learned in this classic abusive debt collection story, and Craig’s awesome response, debt collectors are often unfamiliar with the law. Not only are they unfamiliar with it, they routine violate it… which means you get to collect from them.

Want an example? Let’s say you call a collector to check on the status of your dispute. They decide to solicit payment from you… that collector has just violated the FDCPA and they now owe you at least $1,000.

Oh… it gets better.

(Click to continue reading…)


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A Classic Debt Collection Story

Last week I asked email newsletter subscribers for their experiences with debt collection agencies. I’ve been fortunate never to have crossed paths with a debt collector so I was looking for stories to help put me in the shoes of those who have.

I read about stories of people paying off debts but through some clerical error, the debt was incorrectly sold to a collector. I read stories about legitimate debts that suddenly went to a collector and stories of people who simply didn’t pay up.

If you thought debt collectors only went after “deadbeats,” you’re wrong. There are as many stories of people current on their debts as there are those who are behind.

Here’s one story and Craig’s advice on what he would’ve done differently:
(Click to continue reading…)


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What Constitutes Debt Validation?

DebtSo I sent a debt collection dispute letter, now what?

Well, now you wait.

In most states, the collector has 2 options:

  • They can cease all collection efforts and drop the issue completely, or,
  • They can get validation and try to collect again.

Unless they validate the debt, including all the fees the collection agency has added on, you don’t have to do anything. It’s in this phase that most debt collectors trip up and make mistakes, which will be to your advantage.

(Click to continue reading…)


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Writing Your Debt Collection Dispute Letter

DebtThis is the second guest post in a special How to Fight Debt Collectors series on Bargaineering.com.

Writing a debt collection dispute letter is the first line of defense against a debt collector. Make them prove that the debt is legitimate before you do anything. Just because they have your name doesn’t mean the debt is legitimate. If you don’t remember it or you remember paying it off, a dispute letter can help you resolve it quickly.

Once you know who is calling you and what they are likely to do, it’s time to push back with a properly worded dispute letter.

(Click to continue reading…)


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