In 1978, the United States Congress passed a landmark federal law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that extends important protections to consumers in the United States. The FDCPA gives you the right to sue abusive debt collectors who:
- threaten or harass you
- call during odd hours
- make false statements about the debts they are collecting
- threaten to sue you when there is no intent to do so
- threaten humiliate you by contacting friends or relatives
- contact third parties (parents, siblings, relatives, employers, co-workers, friends) and reveal information about your debts
- threaten to bring criminal charges or suggest that you may go to jail if you do not pay
- continue collection efforts even after you have advised them to stop
- make false or misleading statements in written collection materials
- report inaccurate information about you to a credit bureau
- engage in other acts prohibited by the FDCPA
The FDCPA generally applies to debt collectors, as opposed to your actual creditor. In other words, you have less rights against an in-house collector for a credit card company than you would have against a collection agency hired by the credit card issuer. The FDCPA has also been held to apply to debt collection lawyers.
Money damages under the FDCPA are limited by the statute. Currently you can only recover $1,000 against a creditor for an FDCPA violation + actual damages + reasonable attorney’s fees. Actual damages can arise from medical or psychological trauma, or direct financial loss such as an improperly reduced credit score.
Bill collection is by its very nature an unpleasant business. Bill collectors often work in small offices or cubicles with a telephone and computer monitor and are paid to squeeze as much money as they can from consumer debtors. Often, the actual collectors receive bonuses based on production, so they have a built-in incentive to say or do whatever they can to extract money from you. While many bill collectors work from company prepared scripts, there is often very little oversight or on-going training, resulting in words and actions that violate the FDCPA.
An FDCPA Attorney Can Help
We know the ins and outs of the FDCPA legislation and can help you should you feel that you have a case against any collection agency that has violated the act. Monetary damages can be awarded to the victim based on traumas that are medical and/or psychological in nature. Damages can also be awarded due to financial loss created when a person’s credit score has been improperly reduced. The average individual today that is over their head in debt is not usually aware of the protections offered under the FDCPA.
If you feel that your rights under the FDCPA have been violated, then maybe it is time for you to consult with an attorney to see if you legitimately have a case against a collection agency. We invite you to search our site for information regarding your circumstances. Or you can contact us either via the Contact Us page or the Free Claim Review page. We will be more than happy to help you in anyway we can and answer all questions that you may have.
For over 25 years, Jonathan Ginsberg has represented honest, hardworking men and women facing financial troubles.
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