Is Suttell and Associates calling you? Here's what you need to know.
Financial difficulties are arguably among life’s biggest stressors. When you can’t pay your bills, sooner or later third-party debt collectors get involved, and matters become worse.
Consumers who owe money do have certain rights when it comes to dealing with debt collectors.The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, prohibits the use of dishonest and hostile collection tactics like the following:
- Claiming that you owe an amount that’s not supported by law or the original creditor agreement
- Calling at all hours of the day and night to harass you into paying
- Telling you that you can be arrested or sent to jail for not paying your debts
- Swearing, raising their voice, and threatening harm to your person or property
- Making threats they cannot legally carry out or have no intention of carrying out
- Discussing your debt with anyone except you, your spouse, or your attorney
Not all debt collectors operate with FDCPA restrictions in mind. Suttell, Hammer & White is a ‘creditor’s rights’ law office located in Bellevue, Washington. It was established in 2003 and employs a staff of approximately 62 to support debt collection in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Colorado, Alaska and Utah.
A search of the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website and consumer complaint boards suggest that Suttell, Hammer & White has frequently been accused of breaching the FDCPA.
Sondra Kirk v. Unifund CCR et al
On September 8, 2006 Suttell, Hammer & White (then known as Suttell and Associates) assisted in the filing of a lawsuit against Washington resident Sondra Kirk. She hired an attorney and insisted that the alleged credit card debt was time-barred by the relevant statute of limitations. Ms. Kirk also argued the following:
- Suttell and Associates, Unifund CCR, and the other defendants failed to provide a written contract in the state court collection lawsuit.
- The statute of limitations for an oral contract in the state of Washington is three years.
- The state court complaint alleged an amount in excess of any amount that Ms. Kirk could possibly have owed even if the claim were not time barred.
Ms. Kirk accused Unifund and Suttell and Associates of collecting or attempting to collect time barred-debts in excess of the amount owed using false affidavits for default and or summary Judgment in state court. She also claimed that they made this a business practice and sued around 200 debtors per year for time-barred debts between 2002 and 2006.
With so many debtors potentially affected, Ms. Kirk launched a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Washington state residents to whom a letter threatening a lawsuit was sent or against whom a lawsuit was filed regarding a time-barred personal debt.
Unifund and Suttell and Associates was accused of the following FDCPA violations:
- Falsely representing the character, amount, and/or legal status of the alleged debt (15 USC§ 1692e, 15 USC§ 1692e(2)(a))
- Threatening to take action that cannot legally be taken (15 USC§ 1692e, 15 USC § 1692e(5))
- Making deceptive and misleading statements while collecting a debt (15 USC § 1692e)
The matter was later resolved.
The phone numbers associated with Suttell, Hammer & White are 1-888-788-8355 and 1-425-455-8220. If either number shows up on your caller ID, a debt collector is trying to collect money from you. Contact a consumer attorney if the alleged debt is barred by statute, to ensure that the firm doesn’t force you to pay something you no longer legally owe.
If the matter proceeds to court, you could win statutory damages of $1,000 per FDCPA violation as well as actual damages, court fees, and attorney costs. An experienced FDCPA attorney will help you receive the compensation the law entitles you to.
*Case taken from PACER (pacer.gov). File number is 2:07-cv-00293-EFS from United States District Court, Eastern District of Washington
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be constructed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Suttell, Hammer & White, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.