Are you being hassled by a creditor? Is someone or some business demanding payment upon a debt you don’t feel obliged to pay? Perhaps you feel you owe the creditor some payment, but believe in light of their performance for the service or product, you do not feel obliged to pay the entire amount demanded.

An attorney can help a debtor sort through the complex area of contract law. You may have defenses to the debt demanded by your creditor. For example, certain debts may be so old as to be unenforceable in court due to the statute of limitations. Further, inadequate performance by a creditor in the course of their service may excuse your partial or non-payment.

Unilaterally taking action (such as simply throwing the bill or notice in the garbage) can have devastating consequences. Your creditor may sue you and obtain a judgment. With judgment in hand, a creditor may be able to garnish your wages or bank accounts, place liens upon your property, or force you into bankruptcy proceedings. Worse yet, you may be charged with court costs and attorney’s fees in the course of these collection actions-amounts that may greatly exceed the original debt.

Many understand litigating minor bills is not worth the time, money and effort. However, when justified by your situation, a simple notice to your creditor may explain the futility of taking such action against you. These letters of dispute may save enormous fees without the hassle and stress of litigation. A well-drafted letter of dispute may stop harassing creditor contact and may even halt collection action. It is advisable to seek legal advice when drafting such a letter. An attorney may be able to simply look over a letter you have drafted and provide helpful suggestions and counsel as to the contents without incurring enormous legal fees.

Some conduct of creditors or merchants may even run afoul of consumer protection laws and fair debt collection practices. The law provides a variety of ways to recover damages when these laws are violated. Indeed, under the Consumer Protection Act of Washington State, a successful consumer may be able to recover up to triple damages for violations of the Act (in addition to their legal and court fees).

However, as we all can appreciate, neither justice, nor money is likely to rain down from the skies. You may need to take certain actions to exercise your rights under these laws. Before taking a course of action regarding a debt, it is advisable to seek the advice of an attorney familiar with consumer protection and fair debt collection law.