Category Archives: Practice Areas

Fair Debt Collection in Massachusetts

Fair Debt Collection

The Massachusetts Attorney General‘s Debt Collection Regulations, 940 C.M.R. 7.00, prohibit many unfair debt collection practices by creditors, and regulations of the Massachusetts Division of Banks, 209 CMR 18.00, prohibit unfair debt collection practices by debt collection agencies.

Communication with Creditors and Collection Agencies

When communicating directly with you, creditors and collection agencies may not:

  • Call you at home more than twice for each debt in any seven-day period, or more than twice for each debt in any 30-day period at some place other than your home, such as your place of work.
  • Call you at work if you have requested that they not call. Your oral request that a collector not call you at work is valid for 10 days only. Written requests are valid until you write to the collector removing the restriction.
  • Call you without identifying both the name of the creditor and the name of the person calling. The caller may use a name other than his or her own, but the creditor or collection agency on whose behalf the call is being made must be able to identify that person.
  • Contact you directly, if you have told the creditor or collection agency you are represented by an attorney.
  • Use profane or obscene language.
  • Cause expense to you in the form of long distance calls, express mail charges, wire fees, or other similar charges.
  • Falsely threaten to take legal action that the creditor does not take or reasonably intend to take.
  • Tell anyone (including your friends, neighbors, relatives, or employers) about your debt, without your written consent.
  • Mail to you any printed or written materials that reveal or imply that you owe a debt (for example, by using a postcard to contact you or using a descriptive return address).
  • Solicit post-dated checks from you.
  • Visit your home at times other than your normal waking hours. A collector may not visit you more than once in any 30-day period for each debt, unless you give permission for additional visits.
  • Call you at times other than your normal waking hours. If your waking hours are unknown, then the collector may only call between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
 Additional Rights

A creditor must allow you or your attorney to inspect any document on which the creditor is relying to prove that you owe the debt being collected, e.g., a credit card application, account statement, promissory note, ledger, account card, or similar record in the creditor’s possession, which reflects the date and amount of payments, credits and charges related to the debt. Failure to do so is an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the Attorney General’s Debt Collection Regulations, 940 CMR 7.08 pdf format of    940 CMR 7.00 Revised Clean PDF   .

Under State and Federal Law, if you want all debt collection contact to stop, and it is a debt collection agency (as opposed to the creditor itself) that is contacting you, you have the right to make a request in writing that all such contact stop ( 15 U.S.C. 1692c(c)209 CMR 18.14(3) ). Once you have made such a written request, the debt collection agency may not contact you again; however, the agency will still be permitted to sue you to try and collect the debt.

Locating a Debtor

Creditors and debt collection agencies are permitted to try to locate a debtor by contacting persons other than the debtor or persons residing in the debtor’s household, if the creditor or debt collection agency reasonably believes that it no longer has current information on the debtor’s location. However, it may not inform anyone it calls about your debt.

===============================================Source: Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, 2013, (http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/consumer-information/credit-and-financial-literacy/consumer-credit/fair-debt-collection.html), last accessed 5/15/2013.

English: Sketch of Richard Mentor Johnson free...

Debtor’s Prison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Junk Fax, Junk Text, and Junk Call Cases

TCPA Cases

Leonard Law Office, PC is representing clients who have been subjected to unwanted calls on their cell phones placed by autodialling equipment in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).  Unwanted text messages and faxes from business also usually violate the TCPA.

Homer Simpson's Autodialer
Homer Simpson’s Autodialer

Surprising, but True – Big Companies Violate the TCPA

Like Homer Simpson, some companies are stupid. Like Homer, it is as though they don’t know enough to stay out of trouble.  However, it’s usually not funny when U.S. corporations break the law. Whenever a business uses autodialling equipment to contact consumers’ cell phones and they do not not have express written persmission to do so, it is unlawful. The same goes for text messages, and faxes.  Companies such as Jiffy Lube, Walmart, Target, and Burger King have been hit with class actions for alleged violations of the TCPA. Continue reading

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Legal Discussion: Massachusetts Security Deposit Recovery

In Massachusetts, the law regarding security deposits is very pro-tenant.

Has any of the following happened to you?

  • Landlord did not return the security deposit within 30 days after termination of the tenancy
  • Landlord did not deposit the security deposit in an escrow account.
  • Landlord made up false damage
  • Landlord charged you for cleaning costs and took that from the security deposit

If your landlord did not follow the law, you could be entitled to  3 times the amount of the security deposit.

If you are interested in speaking with an experienced security deposit lawyer about your rights, you are encouraged to contact us.

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Massachusetts Residential Lease Security Deposit Damages in a Nutshell

The Leonard Law Office, LLP accepts Massachusetts security deposit cases.  If you have a question about a security deposit issue, you are welcome to contact us.

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If the Landlord Fails:

  • to deposit the security deposit in an escrow account; or
  • to return the security deposit (or balance after lawful deductions) with accrued interest within 30 days after termination of tenancy; or
  • to pay interest on last month’s rent within 30 days termination of tenancy; or
  • to transfer the security deposit or last month’s rent to the new landlord if the building is sold,

Then you are entitled to TRIPLE damages, plus court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

If the Landlord:

  • uses a lease containing provisions that conflict with the security deposit law and attempts to enforce these provisions or attempts to get you to sign a waiver of rights; or
  • fails to provide you with an itemized list of damages within 30 days after termination of tenancy if deductions are made for damages; or
  • fails to make the security deposit records available for inspection during office hours; or
  • fails to provide, within 30 days of receipt of the deposit, another receipt with name and location of bank and amount and account # of deposit,

Then you are entitled to the IMMEDIATE RETURN of your security deposit. The landlord cannot keep your security deposit for any reason, including making deductions for damage.

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