Summary: Gurstel Law Firm is an aggressive debt collector. Learn what it takes to get them off your credit report and out of your life.
Are you being harassed by Gurstel Law Firm? That’s no surprise. Reviews about the collections firm reveal several complaints.
There was even a class-action lawsuit filed in 2018 for violating privacy rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Gurtsel Law Firm is aggressive, and that can spell trouble if you’re trying to get them off your credit report. It sounds impossible, but you can put an end to unwanted calls and debt collection threats.
Who Is Gurstel Law Firm?
Gurstel Law Firm is a debt collection agency that handles third-party debt collection. The firm has offices in Minnesota, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Most of their locations go by the name Gurstel Law Firm, including the main office in Minneapolis.
But if you get mail from Gurstel Chargo Attorney at Law, don’t let the slight difference in the name fool you.
It’s the same company. Gurstel Chargo is the name of their Omaha office.
It’s a legit company. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that the firm has been in business since 1997, which means they’ve been around for a while.
But the reviews are full of complaints. From surprise wage garnishments to trying to collect a debt from the wrong person, Gurstel Law is difficult to deal with.
Gurstel Law Firm Doesn’t Play Fair
If you’ve gotten a letter from Gurstel Law Firm or seen 877-344-4002 show up on your caller ID, proceed with caution.
The company doesn’t play fair.
The BBB has closed 17 complaints in the past three years.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Justia lists Gurstel Law Firm as a defendant in at least three lawsuits.
The biggest complaints? Privacy violations and unlawful debt collection practices.
If you’re hearing from Gurstel Law, they have bought one of your overdue debts, and they intend to collect.
Here’s What You Can Do
Follow these steps to deal with Gurstel Law.
1. Know Your Rights
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) spells out the rights of debtors and the obligations of debt collectors.
- A debt collector cannot call you before 8AM or after 9PM.
- A debt collector cannot call your place of employment.
- If you have a lawyer, the collector must communicate with your lawyer.
- A debt collector may not communicate with your friends or family members or tell them about your debts.
- Debt collectors cannot threaten to harm you, your reputation, or your property, or use profane language.
- Debt collectors must identify themselves and the company they represent. They cannot claim to be law enforcement or other officials.
- A debt collector cannot threaten you with imprisonment or seizure of assets.
For a full review of your rights under the FDCPA see this summary from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
2. Validate and Verify the Debt
A debt collector must supply the following information to you within five days of the first time they contact you.
- The amount you owe.
- The name of the creditor.
- A notice that you have 30 days to dispute the debt.
This is called debt validation and the information is usually contained in a debt validation letter.
If you do not dispute the debt within 30 days, it is presumed valid. Always dispute debts. To dispute the account you will send a debt verification letter. Send the debt collector a certified letter asking for the following.
- How much you owe.
- The name and address of the original creditor.
- Proof that you owe the debt.
- The date of the original debt.
- Proof that the collector has legal standing to pursue collection efforts in your state.
Send the letter to Gurstel Law by certified mail.
Remember the difference between a debt validation letter, which the collection agency sends to you, and a debt verification letter, which you send to them.
Once you receive the debt validation letter you have 30 days to send your debt verification letter.
Remember that even if you know the debt is yours, the more important issue is whether they know it’s yours.
Because guess what?
If they can’t prove it’s yours, they can’t report it to the credit bureaus.
They might not be able to come up with that proof. Remember, Gurstel Law purchased your debt, in bulk with a bunch of other debt, from the original creditor.
Who knows what was lost in the shuffle?
The onus is on them to provide proof. If they can’t, they’re required by law to remove it from your credit report.
Remember the Statute of Limitations
Always check the date of the debt against the statute of limitations in your state. If the statute of limitations has expired, the collector cannot pursue legal action against you.
The statute of limitations clock begins on the date when the debt was first reported as delinquent.
Remember that making a payment or acknowledging that the debt is yours can restart the statute of limitations.
The expiry of the statute of limitations will not remove an account from your credit record. If the statute of limitations has expired or will expire soon there’s a good chance that the seven-year period of appearance on your credit record is also nearly up.
If the statute of limitations is nearly up your best bet might be to just wait it out.
3. Stop Calls from Gurstel Law NOW
You could get as many as 15 calls per day, according to a Consumer Credit Card Market Report.
That’s way too many.
But you can’t just call them and ask them to stop.
Follow these simple steps to stop the calls.
- Write a “stop contact” or “cease” letter telling them to stop contacting you.
- Make a copy for yourself and mail the original to Gurstel Law.
- To prove you sent the letter, send it by certified mail with “return receipt requested.”
Make sure you follow these exact steps.
If you do, the National Consumer Law Center states, “the collector can only acknowledge the letter and notify you about legal steps the collector may take.”
When you stop the phone calls, you get some breathing room. Remember that you still owe the debt, and the collector can take legal action.
Then you can tackle the next step.
Pro tip: Send the letter by certified mail with “return receipt requested” so you have proof the company received it.
4. Contest the Debt With the Credit Bureaus
If you believe that you do not owe the debt or that the collection agency has failed to validate the debt, you can file a dispute with the credit bureaus. You will need to dispute the account separately with each credit bureau.
Credit Reporting Bureau Mailing Addresses
|P.O. Box 740256 Atlanta, GA 30374-0256||P.O. Box 9701 Allen, TX 75013||P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016-2000|
You can also dispute it online:
The credit bureau must investigate and verify your debt. If they cannot, they must remove it from your credit record.
Remember that even if the debt is removed from your credit record, the collection agency can still pursue collection efforts.
Get Your FREE Credit Dispute Letter Template
Get our winning dispute letter, plus free tips to help you boost your credit
5. Settle With A Pay For Delete Agreement
While occasionally the collection debt isn’t yours, most of the time, it is. If that’s the case, a settlement is one way to resolve the situation.
Remember that debt collectors pay, on average, 4 cents for every dollar of debt that they buy. That gives you room to negotiate. A collector can accept less than you owe and still make a profit.
An article from U.S. News & World Report found that collection agencies will settle for between 40-60% of the balance – which could mean thousands of dollars saved.
You might offer 10% of your balance to see what they say.
They’ll probably ask for more, but don’t let them push you around. With a little negotiation, you can reach an agreement you’re comfortable with.
Pay for Delete
A collection agency may agree to remove your account from your credit record if you settle your debt. This is a “pay for delete” arrangement.
When you discuss a settlement, ask the collection agency representative if they will delete your record if you pay. Send a formal “pay for delete letter” to confirm the arrangement and ask for a written commitment.
Remember that you cannot compel a credit bureau to remove a legitimate account from your record. It will be recorded as paid, but it may remain on your credit report for seven years from the date when the account first became delinquent.
A pay-for-delete arrangement is a gamble. It may not work, but it’s worth trying. If they accept the settlement you will no longer have to deal with the collection agency, and that’s a big plus.
Get Your FREE Pay for Delete Letter Template
After much testing, we have put written a great pay to delete letter you can use to get started.
Pro tip: Anytime you communicate with any collection agency, do it in writing using certified mail with the return receipt requested.
Call for Backup if You’re Overwhelmed
This last step is optional. But it might be your only option.
If Gurstel Law won’t work with you or you keep hitting a dead-end, consider consulting an expert. The debt relief and credit repair industries have earned a bad reputation and scams are rampant, but there are still some legitimate companies that can assist you.
I know what you’re thinking: Asking for help can be uncomfortable.
Don’t feel embarrassed. Asking for help is part of life.
Plus, Gurstel Law can be ruthless! You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
Get Professional Help
We analyzed 21 credit repair companies based on price, service, and results, and picked our top three choices.
What If They Sue?
Collection agencies will take you to court, sometimes over quite small amounts. If you do get sued, don’t ignore the case.
If you don’t respond, the judge will probably issue a summary judgment against you. You will be ordered to repay the debt. If you don’t, your wages could be garnished. In some states, your assets could be seized.
Not all companies will exercise their right to file a lawsuit against you, but Not all companies will exercise their right to file a lawsuit against you, but a lawsuit is always a possibility when dealing with an aggressive debt collector.
Important! Read up on what to do if you get sued by a debt collector to make sure you take all the right steps.
Your Next Step
If Gurstel Law is contacting you by phone or through the mail, you can get them to stop. Don’t let them rule your life!
If you take the initiative and put yourself back in the driver’s seat, you can take concrete steps toward freedom!