Debt Collection Abuse
The law protects you against unfair and coercive debt collection methods. You must know how the law can protect you and help you keep debt collectors in check.
You have the right to stop debt collectors from harassing or abusing you
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, you may be entitled to money damages and payment of your attorneys’ fees and costs. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and various state laws, impose strict regulations on debt collectors attempting to collect debts incurred for the purchase of personal, family and household items, including the purchase of homes, cars, medical care, and money owed on non-business credit card accounts.
These laws were enacted to stop abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by debt collectors. If you believe you have been the victim of unfair practices of a debt collector, contact us for a free telephone evaluation of your debt collection issues. If a debt collector is found to have violated the FDCPA:
You may be entitled to up to $1,000.00 in statutory damages as well as any actual damages, plus payment of your reasonable attorneys fees and costs in bringing the suit, even if you owe the debt.
Below are some violations of the FDCPA:
- Addition of Unauthorized Amounts to the Debt.Debt collectors and collection attorneys will sometimes add amounts to the debt that are not authorized.
- Mass-Mailing of Attorney Letters. Collection letters sent on the letterhead of an attorney often violates the Act. The attorney must review the creditor’s file, reach a professional determination of the merits of the case, and participate in the decision to mail the collection letter. In a mass-mailing situation, the attorney’s participation will not reach this level.
- Threats of Action That Cannot Be Legally Taken or Not Intended to Be Taken. Collection letters that threaten a lawsuit, wage garnishment, seizure of property, etc. often are threats of action not intended to be taken. Neither the collector nor the attorney may overstate the remedies available to the creditor or the remedies it will pursue. Where the amount of the debt is small or the consumer has little or no assets, the threat of a collection action is usually false. In almost all circumstances, threats of arrest for nonpayment of the debt are also false.
- Suit Filed in an Improper Venue. Where the attorney attempting to collect the debt files suit in a venue other than where the consumer resides or entered into the contract that created the debt, the Act may be violated. The Act limits suits regarding real estate to the jurisdiction where the land is located. For personal debts, a collection action may be filed only where the consumer resides or signed the contract.
- Communications with Third Parties. The collector may not communicate regarding the debt with anyone other than the consumer, his or her attorney, a consumer reporting agency, the creditor, and the creditor’s and consumer’s attorneys. Contact with the consumer’s employer or co-workers may also violate the Act.
- Contradiction or Overshadowing of the Thirty Day Validation Notice. The collector is required to inform the consumer in the first communication or within five (5) days thereof that the consumer has thirty (30) days within which to dispute the debt, request in writing verification of the alleged debt, and/or request in writing the name and address of the original creditor. To contradict or overshadow this thirty (30) day period within which the consumer may exercise his rights violates the Act. The contradiction need not be threatening.
- Failure to Provide the Consumer Notices. The failure to give the validation notice, discussed in the foregoing paragraph, and the debt collection warning, i.e. “this is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose,” violates the Act. In all subsequent communications, the collector must state that the communication is from a debt collector.
If your consumer rights have been violated by illegal or abusive tactics, contact us today for a free telephone consultation. Owing a debt does not give a debt collector the right to treat you unfairly.