Suttell & Hammer, P.S. (S&H) is a law firm based in Washington state that specializes in third-party debt collection. S&H has received consumer complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), including harassment and threatening to take actions that cannot legally be taken.If you have been contacted by this firm, make sure you understand your rights before taking action.
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According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Suttell & Hammer, P.S. was founded in 1986 and incorporated in 2003. The BBB established a profile page for S&H in 2007. S&H is listed as a collection attorney firm that uses the alternate business name, Suttell, Hammer and White, P.S. Buzzfile estimates S&H’s annual revenue at $9.5 million and the size of its headquarters staff at 62 employees.
According to its website, S&H “strives to be the pre-eminent creditors-rights law firm in the West…by providing the highest quality and efficient legal representation to…clients.” S&H “utilizes cutting edge technologies to rapidly perform while ensuring security and compliance” in an “ever-changing economic environment.”
The S&H website does not provide any additional details about its business practices or client base. The home page includes a link to the online payment portal, contact information, and a disclaimer identifying S&H as a debt collector and advising consumers of their right to request verification of debts.
In addition, the Attorneys tab provides contact information for their staff attorneys, organized by geographical region; a Make a Payment tab; and a Contact Us tab with a web-based contact form. They do not provide links or references to consumer protection resources, laws, or enforcement agencies.
The BBB has closed 7 complaints against Suttell & Hammer in the preceding 3 years, with 2 complaints closed in the past 12 months. All of those complaints alleged problems with billing and collections. Since November 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has closed 2 complaints against S&H. Justia lists at least 3 cases of civil litigation involving S&H.
Suttell & Hammer, P.S.
10900 NE 8th St., Ste. 605
Bellevue, WA 98004-4454
Telephone: (425) 455-8220
It is illegal for a debt collector to threaten to sue you or garnish your wages. It is also unlikely S&H would sue you for a debt you may not owe or they cannot validate. However, debt collection agencies are known to have summoned debtors to court and garnish wages after a default judgement. Contacting an attorney BEFORE this could possibly happen would be a smart move. We’ve helped thousands of consumers fight back against unscrupulous debt collection harassers. Find out if we can help you too today!
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Absolutely. Here are some Sample Cases filed in Federal Court
In November 2013, in United States District Court, Eastern District of Washington, a judge issued an Order in a case alleging Suttell & Hammer had violated the FDCPA, as well as Washington state law. In this case, the plaintiff became delinquent on an American Express credit card bill. American Express sued the plaintiff and “obtained a default judgment and writs of garnishment.” However, the plaintiff challenged the judgement in state court, and it was eventually vacated. The state court “ordered all clouds on the title to the plaintiff’s property removed and the garnished money returned to her.” American Express returned the plaintiff’s money, and the action was dismissed. Subsequently, about a year later, S&H “prepared and filed garnishment papers in the dismissed case, in which they erroneously represented that American
Express had an unpaid judgment against” the plaintiff. Suttell & Hammer also misrepresented the plaintiff’s employer, stating specifically that the employer named in the dismissed judgement was not her employer. S&H did not have any contact with the plaintiff, who learned a month after S&H’s filing that her “paycheck…would be garnished…and that the contents of her deposit accounts…were frozen.” The plaintiff immediately contacted one of the attorneys from the previously dismissed action to discuss the new filing. Two weeks later, her attorney contacted S&H and notified them of the previous dismissal and to terminate the garnishment order. The garnishment order was terminated upon request; the plaintiff’s money was restored; and the state court awarded the plaintiff attorney’s fees in the amount of $9,250.45.
At the November 2013 hearing, the plaintiff sued S&H for violations of the FDCPA; the Washington Consumer Protection Act (WCPA); the Washington Collection Agency Act (WCAA); and wrongful garnishment. The plaintiff sued under the FDCPA for two reasons: to collect statutory damages for the filing of an illegal writ of garnishment; and to collect additional damages for emotional distress caused by the illegal filing. Attorneys for S&H argued that the plaintiff could not prevail in her WCPA claim. That law applies to trade and commerce, but when a law firm files a writ of garnishment—even an erroneous garnishment—such an act does not fall under “trade and commerce” as defined by the WCPA. They also argued that the WCAA claim should fail because that law does not provide for a “private right of action”; in other words, it does not give private individuals the authority to sue for violations. The court upheld S&H arguments that the state laws could not be applied in this case. The court also found that the plaintiff had not provided enough evidence to support a successful claim for emotional distress under the FDCPA. However, they upheld the plaintiff’s claim that Suttell & Hammer was liable for statutory FDCPA violations and awarded her $2,000 in damages. The court also instructed the plaintiff to submit a “petition for reasonable attorney fees and costs.”
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The FDCPA regulates the behavior of collection agencies by prohibiting actions such as the use of abusive or threatening language; harassment; or the use of false or misleading information to collect a debt.
The FCRA regulates how collection agencies and creditors report delinquent debts to credit reporting agencies. Additional consumer protection laws include the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). The complaint above illustrates how these laws can be extremely effective tools to hold accountable collection agencies who fail to adhere to their provisions.
These laws also provide individuals with a means to seek monetary damages in court. For example, the FDCPA allows consumers who have been violated to recover damages of up to $1,000, plus attorney fees and court costs.
Seek legal assistance to find the relief you may be entitled to if you are having difficulty resolving disputes with a debt collection agency
Your debt harassment checklist:
- You are receiving multiple calls per week from third party collection agencies
- You are receiving early morning or late night calls from debt collectors
- You are receiving calls at work from a debt collection agency
- Debt collectors are calling your friends, neighbors, or coworkers
- Collectors are threatening you with violence, lawsuit, or arrest
- A debt collector attempts to collect more than you owe
- You are being threatened with negative credit reporting
- A debt collector attempts to intimidate you
- Criminal accusations are being made towards you
- Use of obscene language during an attempt to collect
- Automated robocalls are being made to your phone in an attempt to collect
If you’ve been harassed by debt collectors and even one of these has happened to you, we can help. We will fight for your rights.
We can make them STOP!✋
The Lemberg Law legal team is committed to holding debt collectors accountable, so complete our form for a FREE case evaluation, or call 844-685-9200 NOW.
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