Creditors have strict legal obligations that they must follow when they are trying to collect debts. While the law recognizes that they have a right to do their job, it also places strict limits on how they can do it. If they violate those limits, they could be responsible for paying damages in a lawsuit. If you have had to deal with a demeaning and harassing creditor, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Not only do you want to put an end to abusive debt collection practices, but you also want to be paid for the ordeal to which you were subjected by an unscrupulous debt collector. They will certainly not listen to you. If they had listened, they would not have even attempted to break the law in the first place. The only way to stand up to a bullying debt collector is to hire a tough and aggressive attorney who will fight back on your behalf.
How the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Protects You
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. The FDCPA tries to balance creditors’ interests in being paid back their debts with debtors’ interests in being free from harassment and intimidation. Accordingly, creditors are allowed to contact you, but they are not allowed to do the following:
- Make any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt
- Not identify themselves with their true identity when they call you
- Contact you at an unusual time or place or somewhere that they know is inconvenient for you
- Harass you or anyone else through any means of contact
- Call you when you have informed them that you do not want to be called
For example, the debt collector may continue to call you at work after you have expressly told them never to call you at your workplace. They may keep calling when you have sent them a formal letter saying that they can only communicate with you through a letter.
Debt collectors are trying to speak to you in any way they can to pressure, shame, threaten or overwhelm you into paying your debt. Sometimes, they cross the line.
Your Damages in an FDCPA Lawsuit
When a creditor has violated your legal rights under the FDCPA, you can file a civil lawsuit against them. The law allows you the following remedies:
- $1,000 for each violation as statutory damages (this is a strict liability – the debt collector need not intend to break the law)
- Physical distress that you have suffered from the effects of being harassed or bullied by a debt collector
- Emotional distress from being harassed by abusive debt collection practices
- Lost wages if calls to your office interfered with your ability to earn money at work