The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) aims to end abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. The FDCPA is a federal law specifically applicable to third party debt collectors.
In the event you believe a debt collector has violated the FDCPA regulations and your rights, you may sue them for these violations.
How To Sue Debt Collectors for FDCPA Violations?
Several remedies are available in the event of an FDCPA violation by debt collectors. These include:
- Sue the creditor in small claims court,
- Alert a government agency about the action,
- Alert the state attorney general about the action, or
- Use the violation to help leverage a better debt settlement during the negotiations.
We consider the method with the highest monetary damages.
There are two options aside from approaching the small claims court. You can file a FDCPA lawsuit in either state or federal court as consumer protection laws exist at both levels.
Initiate A Lawsuit Against A Debt Collector In State Court:
In a State court, initiate lawsuits against a debt collector in your own capacity, or with the help of an attorney. Providing evidence that meets the “burden of proof” (the degree to which you must prove your case) can be a complicated task. It would be wise to consider legal representation before navigating the lawsuit, especially because we can offer it completely free of charge.
Initiate A Lawsuit Against A Debt Collector In Federal Court:
A federal court is more familiar with the application of the FDCPA. Federal courts have the right to take cases away from state courts applying federal laws. Even if you choose a state court, the collection agency may ask that the lawsuit be moved to federal court.
So, it is advisable to use the federal courts rather than a state court to avoid any unnecessary delays.
If the court finds in your favor, you may collect $1,000 in statutory damages, per violation. This could be more if you suffered harm from the violations.
You could claim:
- Your attorney fees and costs
- Damage and suffering you can prove, like medical bills or lost wages
- Up to$1,000 even if the damages can't be proved
The "statute of limitations", requires you file a lawsuit against debt collection agencies within one year of the FDCPA violation taking place.
You can represent yourself in a lawsuit against a third-party debt collector, or even sue the original creditor liable. Consider using a skilled lawyer to help you decide 'who and how’ you should sue.
What Are Your Rights Under The FDCPA?
The FDCPA limits how a debt collector can collect money from you. If the third-party debt collector violates any regulations in the FDCPA, you have certain rights.
The rights can be divided into two main categories:
The Right To Confirm The Debt
Verifying that the debt is valid is very important. To verify the debt, debt collectors must provide the following information in a validation letter:
- The name of the creditor
- The total debt owed to that creditor.
- Your right to dispute the debt within 30 days.
After validating the debt, but before any payments are made; the FDCPA gives you certain communication rights. These are:
- The right to not be contacted at times that are known as an inconvenience for you. Debt collectors can’t contact you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.
- The debt collector can’t initiate calls to your workplace, while present or not.
- You can send debt collectors a written request to stop all contact.
- Debt collectors may not harass you when attempting to collect a debt. Harassment includes, using vulgar, or threatening language.
- The right to not experience abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices by debt collectors.
- Once debt collectors are aware you are represented by an attorney, they must direct all communications to your attorney from there on out.
Common FDCPA Violations
The most common violations of the FDCPA are:
Repeatedly Trying To Collect A Debt Not Owed By You
Consumers who are repeatedly contacted about debts they have either paid off a long time ago, or debts they never incurred.
Aggressive Communication Tactics:
Debt collectors who phone consumers have been reported for using threats, or vulgar language when attempting to collect on a debt.
Disclosure verification of debt:
Written debt validation letters are either never sent, or fail to include the total amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and a notice to inform consumers of their right to dispute the debt within 30 days.
Insinuating legal action:
The debt collector threatens to sue the consumer even though the debt is too old and the statute of limitations has lapsed. Debt collectors have also threatened to garnish consumer’s wages, and/or to confiscate the consumer’s home or personal property.
A debt collector says or implies that it is a law firm, or tries to collect an amount greater than what is owed.
Incorrect Contact Methods And Leaking Information:
Information about the debt can be shared with a third party without the consumer’s written permission. Debt collectors are only allowed to inform the following without permission:
- The consumer’s attorney,
- The creditor,
- The creditor’s attorney,
- A credit reporting agency,
- The consumer’s spouse, or
- The consumer’s parent(s) if a minor.
Excessive phone calls
The collection agency makes several calls a day, and sometimes several calls in a row. Even when you don’t answer.
If you believe your FDCPA rights have been violated, don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself. Consider consulting an attorney to help you establish a case.
A court could award you with a substantial amount in damages. This could help you reduce your debt, recover legal costs, and receive compensation for any health or financial suffering.
Remember, you only have one year to take action. Start with using a free credit check, then consider our FREE case review!