Have you ever received a phone call and heard someone tell you that you owed them money? Were these people unreasonably rude? Did they seem threatening in any way?
The truth is, there are a lot of companies out there that use deceptive, unfair, and abusive debt collection practices. Fortunately, back in 1978 Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to protect consumers from being harassed and mistreated over unpaid debts. The Act also allows consumers to recoup monetary damages as well as costs and attorney’s fees from these collectors.
Read on to find out more about the FDCPA and how it can protect you.
Who is Affected by the FDCPA?
The FDCPA affects both debtors and collectors including the following:
- Consumer Debtors: Consumer debts are personal, family and household debts including those associated with medical care, mortgages, credit cards, car payments and retail financing.
- Third Party Collectors: These are individuals or entities trying to collect a debt on behalf of another party.
Here are some of the basic guidelines the FDCPA provides:
- Finding Out the Location of a Debtor: If a collector is trying to track down the location of a debtor, they must identify themselves, their motive and their employer if requested. They can only contact parties once to try to obtain this information unless it is determined that the information they received is false or if they reasonably believe someone has updated information.
- Communicating with the Consumer: When it comes to collecting a debt, collectors are prohibited from contacting debtors at inconvenient times or at their place of employment, if the collector know the consumer cannot take such calls at work. Once the collector becomes aware that the debtor has an attorney, all communication must be done through the attorney and no other third party can be involved.
If a debtor notifies the creditor in writing that they are refusing to pay the debt, the collector must refrain from contacting them further to collect the debt. They may only contact them to let them know that they are withdrawing the debt or to tell them that special remedies will or may be invoked by the collector.
Consumer Disrespect: Collectors may not show any disrespect to the debtor including the following:
- Threats of violence
- Obscene language
- Publishing the consumer’s name on a list of people who refuse to pay debts unless the publication is made to a consumer reporting agency
- Repeated contact with the debtor or a third party with the intent to annoy and harass the individual
Misrepresentation and Unfair Practices: Here are some other things a collector is prohibited from doing:
- Misrepresenting the character, status, or amount of the debt
- Claiming to be a government official
- Claiming to be an attorney
- Claiming that failure to pay will result in an arrest or confiscation of property
- Threatening impermissible legal action
- Threatening unintended legal action
- Communicating false information about the debtor’s credit
- Using deceptive means to attempt to collect the debt
- Implying they are employed by a consumer reporting agency
- Using unfair means to collect any interest, fees, or charges that have not been authorized by the original contract
- Threatening to deposit postdated checks
- Charging consumers for communication including telephone and telegram fees.
Validation: After contacting a debtor to inform them about a debt, a collector is required to send a validation letter including information on the amount owed, the name of the creditor, and the debtor’s dispute rights.
Liability for FDCPA Violations
Collectors who do not comply with FDCPA regulations may be liable for any actual damages sustained by the consumer, statutory damages not exceeding $1000, and all costs and attorney’s fees associated with a consumer’s FDCPA claim.
Finding the Right FDCPA Lawyer to Represent You in Your Debt Collection Case
If you are being asked to pay a debt in the state of Louisiana and you feel as if the collector is crossing a line, you may need the help of a reliable lawyer. Samuel Ford of Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki has a multitude of experience with FDCPA claims.
Debtors have rights. Make sure yours are protected. If a collector is harassing you, don’t let them get away with it. Call the SVHC team today.
Samuel Ford of SVHC offers free consultations and, if you have a claim, you may be able to recover all associated costs and attorney’s fees, meaning SVHC may be able to represent you at no cost to you! Contact Samuel Ford today!