How-to-Sue-Harassing-Debt-Collectors-for-Breaking-the-FDCPA-Rules-Part-1-1024x552.jpg (1024×552)Debts happen to everyone. Houses, cars, school, large financial decisions and family disasters that must be paid for all create debts along with hundreds of unique situations in between personal and business life. Unfortunately, even if your debt started with a reputable company or financial firm, at some point that debt was ‘sold’ to a collections agency and they are far less respectful. Whether you have been fending off unending repetitive phone calls during dinner or the scoundrels have started calling you at work, it’s important to know that you have rights as a debtor. Protect yourself with as much information and knowledge on how to handle a debt collector when they come calling.

The FDCPA or Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has some very clear and enforceable rules about when and how debt collectors are allowed to contact you or handle your personal information. If a debt collection agency is going out of their way to make your life miserable, chances are that they have already broken a rule and you can force them to stop and possibly even take a chunk out of them before the day is through.

Calling Before 8AM or After 9PM (Your Time)

Debt collectors are not allowed to call you during normal sleeping hours, as this has been a known way to harass people beyond all reason in the past. It’s important to remember that the time matters where you are, not where they are so using a call center halfway across the world does not mean they can call you in the middle of the night or even a single hour early or late.

Calling Repeatedly and Continuously

Calls must take on the form of reasonable communication. If you have picked up and hung up once after trading a few words, they are not allowed to keep calling you, as this is a form of harassment and ties up your phone line which could cause you to be unable to reach 911 in case of an emergency.

Misrepresentation or Deception

Debt collectors often lie, claiming to have more authority than they really do. They are not allowed to claim to be police officers, lawyers, or representatives of any company other than their own. If a debt collector claims to be someone else to scare you, they are breaking the rules.

Publishing Your Name on a ‘Bad Debt’ List

Debt collectors are not allowed to make your debt public in any way. This means that they are not allowed to put your name on a ‘bad debt’ list on the internet, share it in a forum, or write about it on a bulletin board. If you find your name listed, keep a screenshot of the list as evidence and look for proof of who posted the information.

Inflating the Amount of Debt

It goes without saying that debt collection agencies are not exactly at the peak of business morality but some take it further than others. Your debt should equal the amount in your original contract plus any interest that gathered before the account was closed and the debt was sold. This should be legally calculable. Any extra ‘padding’ added by the debt company is an attempt to defraud you and is illegal.

Threatening Legal Action

Debt collection agencies have the option to sue you for the money, but they mostly don’t want to because this is expensive. They cannot have you arrested or sent police to your house and if they threaten this, they are both lying and breaking the law. They are also not allowed to threaten to sue you if they don’t intend to, so you might be able to call their bluff or force their hand if that threat arises.

Using Abusive Language

Debt collectors make it a habit to be abrasive and irritating but some go overboard and actually start cursing. The moment insulting, belittling, threatening, or curse words come out of their mouths, they have officially violated the FDCPA, as debt collectors are not allowed to use abusive language or profanity in the course of their work.

Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we specialize in protecting ‘the little guy’ from harassing employers, big corporations, and harassing debt collectors. Join us next time as we cover the rest of this impressive collection of rules designed to thwart surprisingly vile tactics and how to prepare your lawsuit against people who have disrespected your legal rights to privacy and peace of mind.

Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986