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Question
Can a collection agency take your car in Texas.  They have been threating a friend of mine with violence and other things. Their exact words were " We will take your car since you can't pay us you don't have the money to put gas in it anyway".  I think that is just so wrong.  I would like to know what she should do.  I have already told her to hang up on their butts if they cant be civil.  Thank you.

Answer
First - they can't take anything unless they (a) have a recorded lien on that item or (b) have a Judgment and show up with a police officer. If they don't have either of these things they cannot take anything.

Second - a Collection Agency threatening someone with violence should be immediately reported to the police. Threatening violence is a crime - it is called "battery". Texas is a "one-party" State when it comes to recording telephone calls, so I suggest your friend record all calls from this collector to be used as evidence. Here is a copy of the relevant Texas law:

Texas Penal Code 16.02: So long as a wire, oral or electronic communication including the radio portion of any cordless telephone call is not recorded for a criminal or tortious purpose, anyone who is a party to the communication, or who has the consent of a party, can lawfully record the communication and disclose its contents.

Under the statute, consent is not required for the taping of a non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication. See definition of "oral communication," Texas Code Crim. Pro. Art. 18.20.

Third - there is a Federal law involved here also - the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) - that this collector has already violated by threatening violence. FDCPA prohibits threat of any act the collector (a) does not have the legal right to take or (b) does not intend to perform. Battery certainly fits in here. Once again, get a recording and then your friend can file suit against the collector (personally) and the Collection Agency for $1,000 Statutory Damages for violating FDCPA.

Many years ago I set up a web site that teaches how to file FDCPA suits - www.debtorboards.com (DB). DB is totally free. I suggest your friend go over there and post the issue and see what suggestions he gets there.

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Steve Katz

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Debt Collection, Credit Reporting, FCRA, FDCPA, TCPA issues

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Founder of Debtorboards, co-author of Debtsmanship, former Collector, Credit Counselor

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MBA

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