The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted to protect consumers from debt collector harassment and regulate the behavior of abusive and harassing debt collection companies. Over the last few decades, it has become common for consumers to pay for goods and services on credit. This can be anything from the cars we drive to our medical bills, mortgages, student loans to our children’s education, holiday gifts and even entertainment. It is a simple reality that many of us fall behind on our payments or are unable to pay back the debts we have incurred. When this happens, you can expect to hear from a debt collector. Debt collectors are notorious for harassing consumers, for being abusive and deceptive in their attempts to collect the debt. Debt collectors way too often break the law. Do not let this happen to you. You have rights and you can fight back.
FDCPA Claims on the Rise
In recent years, the economic situation in the US has changed dramatically and many people have lost their jobs and cannot get employment. As more and more consumers are unable to pay back their debts, more and more debt collectors are violating the laws when they attempt to collect. As a result, FDCPA claims have become much more common. If you feel your fair debt rights have been violated, it is important for you to contact a debt collection lawyer today who explain your consumer rights and help put an end to the harassing debt collectors.
What Types of Debt are Covered?
The FDCPA and California’s fair debt statute provide consumer protection for personal, family and household debts. The FDCPA does not provide consumer protection for business debts. Some examples of personal, family and household debts include:
- Credit cards;
- Auto payments;
- Medical bills;
- School loans;
- Bank loans;
- Utility bills;
- Cell phone bills;
- Residential leases;
- And more….
Who is Considered to be a Debt Collector?
The FDCPA regulates the activities of debt collectors. According to the FDCPA, a debt collector is any third party who collects on the debt of another. Often times, lawyers attempt to collect debts for third parties. As a result, lawyers can also be considered debt collectors and may be liable for violations of the FDCPA. Under the FDCPA, an original creditor is not considered a debt collector. However, the opposite is true in California. In California, consumers have fair debt rights against debt collectors and original creditors.
Violations of the FDCPA
The FDCPA outlines how debt collectors can and cannot act when collecting on a debt. The FDCPA restricts debt collectors from doing the following:
- Contacting a third party who does not owe the debt such as a relative, friend, neighbor, or the employer of the debtor;
- Use threatening tactics such as referring your debt to an attorney and/or damage your credit rating;
- Threaten to garnish your wages or repossess your personal property without the actual intent of doing so;
- Take money from your bank account without permission;
- Call you before 8:00am or after 9:00pm, without permission;
- Call you repeatedly and continuously;
- Call you at your workplace without permission;
- Tell your employer about the debt;
- Use abusive, racist, or profane language;
- Falsify letters to make them look like they are from a court or other governmental agency;
- Make false representations in their effort to collect the debt such as claiming that they are an attorney when they are not or claiming to have filed suit when they have not;
- Ask for a collection fee or additional interest payments;
- Ask for post-dated checks with the intent of prosecuting if they do not clear;
- Sue in a court that is a long distance from your home;
- Threaten to call the police or arrest you if you do not pay the debt;
- And so much more…
What Can I do if a Debt Collector has Violated the Law?
If you or someone you know has been harassed in any way by a debt collector, you have the right to sue the debt collector in state or federal court. If the debt collector has violated the FDCPA, you can receive monetary compensation for the actual damages you have suffered as a result of the illegal debt collection practices plus up to an additional $1,000 for statutory damages. In addition, the debt collector is responsible to pay for your attorneys fees and costs.