If you believe you’ve been illegally harassed by a debt collector, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney. There’s a chance that the collector did in fact break the law, and you may be able to receive compensation in a lawsuit. Once you sue the collector, though, often you’ll find that they are willing to settle, especially if your attorney is good enough to show that it broke the law pursuing the debt. However, it may ask you and your attorney to sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibits you and your attorney from discussing the amount of the settlement. It may even ask you to refrain from discussing the lawsuit at all, which is a more novel concept on the part of debt collectors. Here are three things to consider.
- Confidentiality over the amount you settled isn’t always a bad thing. The bank likely does not want other plaintiffs (and their attorneys) to know that they are willing to pay out that much in a debt collection case. Whether it’s worthwhile for you to pursue this option is up to you because it’s your case. Sure, your Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney won’t be able to say, “I got my client xxxxxxxxx dollars; I may be able to do that for you!” in an advertisement, but that’s not for your lawyer to decide.
- As to a prohibition on discussing the lawsuit at all? That’s a different issue. One of the reasons the debt collection companies wants to prevent you from discussing a case that’s a matter of public record is to get a “Gotcha!” on you. If you tell a friend, relative, neighbor, or acquaintance that you filed this lawsuit, you will be liable to the debt collection company if it finds out. Sadly, it will probably have a good case against you.
- The second reason the debt collection company wants you to sign that agreement is to ensure that your attorney doesn’t use it as an example of what he or she accomplished. This is both true in talking shop with other attorneys or in front of audiences and in your attorney’s advertising. It’s one thing if your lawyer can’t talk about the amounts he or she obtained from a client, but it’s another thing entirely if discussing the case and the identity of the debt collector is off-limits.
If you’re settling with a debt collector that misbehaved, it’s important to know the impact of signing a confidentiality agreement. If you’re settling for a large amount, it’ll be bad business for the collector (which you probably couldn’t care less about), but it might be offering a good deal in exchange for your silence. By contrast, barring you from discussing your case at all—and being able to sue you if you let it casually slip that you filed a lawsuit with a debt collector—is probably going too far. If you find yourself in these circumstances, there is good reason why you likely shouldn’t sign the agreement.
For more questions about bankruptcy in Las Vegas, please feel free to contact an experienced Haines & Krieger Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney for a free initial consultation by calling 702-880-5554.