Striking Back At Debt Collectors

Debt collection calls can be stressful and overwhelming.  Most Californians who are receiving repeated and nerve-racking debt collection calls are not deceitful people who are trying to defraud their creditors, they are hard-working people who have fallen behind on their bills and struggling to catch up.  Have you fallen behind on your bills and found yourself getting persistent calls from debt collectors? If you have and are experiencing repeated debt collection calls without the funds to pay them in full immediately, there may be other ways to get them to stop.

Debt Collection Laws

There are both state and federal laws that govern the practice of debt collection.  The most commonly known law is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA is a Federal law that details the conduct and actions third-party debt collectors can take while endeavoring to collect debts from individuals.  Specifically, the FDCPA indicates which behaviors are not permitted.  The FDCPA prohibits the following:

  • Harassment or Abuse
  • False or Misleading Representations
  • Unfair Practices
FDCPA Violations Attorney, FDCPA Lawsuit

FDCPA Violations Attorney

Filing A Lawsuit

If you have clear and convincing proof that a debt collector has violated any of the laws outlined in the FDCPA you can file a FDCPA lawsuit against that debt collector. With the necessary evidence to prove the debt collector violated your rights a judge can find in your favor and you can be awarded a monetary judgment and the debt collector will have to cease the unscrupulous behavior.

Filing a lawsuit against a debt collector is not a sure thing and it has its downsides.  There are various ramifications that can result in filing a lawsuit against a debt collector.  For instance, if the statute of limitations on the debt has not expired you may find yourself receiving a summons and complaint seeking a judgment for the full amount of the debt.  If you believe your rights have been violated, speak with a qualified attorney and discuss your specifics and your options.

Options

Filing a lawsuit isn’t your only option.  If you honestly feel like the debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting their website www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) by filling out an online complaint form through their website www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint.  You can also file a complaint with The California State Attorney General.  California debt collection laws have the same basic principles as the FDCPA.

Another common option is using the debt collector’s violations as leverage to begin a productive settlement negotiation.  More than likely the debt collector knows they are violating the guidelines of the FDCPA and are hoping the debtors are unaware of their rights.  Use the violation as a chance for you to work out settlement terms that are favorable to you and are within your means.  A qualified bankruptcy attorney can help you negotiate with the debt collector and provide you valuable assistance during the settlement negotiations.

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Non-Compete Agreements in California

Employment relationships can be difficult and severing employment relationships can be even more difficult.  When an employee makes the decision to sever their relationship with your business they may be moving on to a different field and things may go quite smoothly.  But they may decide to make a lateral move in the same field.  What happens if that is the case and they want to take other employees, clients or ideas that were created while working for your business? How can you protect your business and stop this from happening.

Non-Compete Agreements In California

Non-Compete Agreements In California

The answer is an agreement called a Non-Compete Agreement. A non-compete agreement will prohibit a former employee from competing with you for business.  In other words, former employees will be prohibited from soliciting your current employees or clients, and further will not be allowed to take business creations with them.  Non-compete clauses should protect the employer without hampering a departing employee’s ability to find future work.

Enforceable Non-Compete Agreements or Clauses

Are non-competes enforceable in California?  Yes, provided you take caution when crafting the non-compete agreement.  The non-compete agreement or clause requires the use of a few key areas to protect your interests while at the same time making a qualified effort to not overstep an employer’s boundaries. The following topics should be detailed in the non-complete clauses of an employment agreement or in a separate non-compete agreement:

  • Length of Time
  • Geographic Area Covered
  • Protect Valid Business Concerns

The non-complete should set forth a duration of time to be covered.  Typically issues arise shortly after an employee’s departure.  As such, most employers find that a one year time frame sufficient to protect their business concerns.  Further, a few courts have found that non-compete agreements exceeding two years invalid, as they hamper an employee from finding future employment.

The non-compete should also set forth what valid business concerns you are protecting.  What is a valid business concern?  A valid business concern can include: trade secrets; confidential or proprietary information regarding the business, clients or customers; and specific ways which a service is provided.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are a business practice or process or collection of information not commonly known to others. While your non-compete should include the protection of your company’s trade secrets, it is important to note that trade secrets are protected in California, as well as all states, without a written non-compete.  Trade secrets are protected under California law and the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA).  For further information on trade secrets protections please visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website at https://www.uspto.gov/trademark.

To sum up an enforceable non-compete should provide protection for both the employer and the employee.  An employer has the right to protect its business, however, they are not allowed to create an undue hardship on an employee should they wish to seek employment elsewhere.  Take time to verify that your non-compete is fair to all parties and you should not have any issues regarding its enforceability.

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