When consumers find themselves in financial trouble, they might become the victims of harassing phone calls from persistent bill collectors. Most of these companies often practice other unscrupulous techniques that are considered to be against the law. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was passed in the late seventies to safeguard consumers from harassing conduct by debt collectors.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is given the job of enforcing the FDCPA, but it has been lenient in its enforcement duties. Fortunately, while the FTC declines to perform its obligations, there exists provisions inside the FDCPA which will permit private lawsuits.
What Actions Are Forbidden by the FDCPA?
The FDCPA prevents collectors from utilizing unjust collection procedures to collect consumer bills. This federal legislation states that debt collection agencies will not be allowed to:
- Contact consumers ahead of 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. home time
- Call once a consumer has requested in writing that the bill collector stop all communications
- Misinform consumers concerning the actual dollar amount due on their debt
- Use intimidating or indecent words which include racial slurs
- Threaten consumers with being charged and/or jailed
- Pretend that they are someone they are not for the purpose of acquiring individual information
- Inform a third party about a consumer's bill, like an employer, family member, neighbor, or other unauthorized person
- Pay no attention to a mailed demand to validate the consumer debt or to cease all communication attempts
- Threaten to damage credit ratings if there is no reporting ability or no intent to report
- Create fake representations that the debt collection agency is an employee of a law firm or government
- Threaten to cause earnings levied or real estate removed when, the truth is, that threat must not be accomplished or the threat is not intended
Reports can be submitted using the FTC although it is not going to respond to particular claims submitted. The FTC does, nevertheless, acquire data about trends to permit it to figure out exactly where to commit man power. Statements may be registered with the state's consumer protection bureau and also as well as the local chamber of commerce. Those, too, cannot conduct an investigation about certain claims, although they do assemble data for government investigations.
How Can Debt Collectors Violate the FDCPA?
The most common violations that debt collection agencies use contrary to consumers are the:
- Attempted communication with a consumer after submitting a cease and desist letter
- Billing interest and costs that the consumer will not agree to pay in the first place
- Repeatedly contacting the consumer during restricted times or times the debt collector has learned is annoying for the consumer
- Calling the consumer at the job following advice that the employer does not allow for such messages or calls
- Threatening to report that a consumer committed a crime
- Faking like the collection agency is coming from the lotto, healthcare facility, or some other entity to obtain private data via the consumer or someone else
- Stating or threatening to tell associates, parents, employers, or other persons about the balance
- Failing to state the obligation as contested to the creditor bureaus following the consumer giving a dispute letter
- Calling the debtor after he or she filed a bankruptcy petition
A lot of states enforce time limits when a debt could be resolved in court. If the debt collector will not file an collection lawsuit during that time frame, the debt collection agency forfeits the privilege to sue. This particular standard is recognized as the statute of limitations and it varies by applicable laws. As soon as the time limit has ended, a debt collector is unable to enforce the financial obligation; however, it may try to recover if the collection agency does not utilize judicial means. In other words, it can still try and collect, it just cannot sue or threaten to sue.
Consumer Rights Attorneys Are Empowered to Implement the FDCPA
Consumers which have failed to keep up with their debt obligations are shielded from being subjected to collection abuse. Consumers possess a right to be handled fairly through the experience of debt collection. Nonetheless, debt collectors that disobey the FDCPA might be punished up to $1,000 because of a prevailing consumer lawsuit. This particular penalty is generally known as "statutory damages" and should in most cases become the property of the consumer. Statutory damages are meant to become a deterrent against illegal loan collection. There are many other remedies afforded by the FDCPA such as actual damages and the payment of attorney's fees and expenses of a lawsuit. These are designed to allow consumers to retain interested attorneys to take on their suit without having the worry of large attorney fees and expenses.
In case you have been the target of oppressive telephone communications or letters, make sure you contact us at this time in order that we are able to serve by placing a stop to it. We are knowledgeable within the area of fair debt collection practices, and we frequently file FDCPA cases against collection agencies alleged to break fair debt collection laws. Call us now at 610-616-5303 or visit us at Consumer Litigation Group or email us at Info@ConsumerLitigators.com.