FDCPA Lawyers – Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
When you’re being harassed, emotionally manipulated, lied to or even threatened by a debt collection agency, it can feel like the end of the world. Debt collectors seem to know everything about you, manipulate your words, and, worst of all, claim they have the legal right to make your personal and financial life miserable. Debt collector harassment can leave you sleepless at night, anxious throughout the day, and on the verge of tears every time the phone rings.
It is not a pleasant experience, and it never will be. Debt collectors know the law better than you and use it to their advantage, manipulating your lack of knowledge and fear of the unknown. After all, how can you counter their misinformation and verbal traps if you don’t know anything about your rights?
It can feel insurmountable to take on debt collectors yourself, mainly when they are contacting your friends, family, and work colleagues trying to extort payment. None of which is legal, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The FDCPA was created in 1977 to eliminate the abusive practices of debt collection, such as harassment and threats while providing consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information.
In short, the FDCPA protects you from debt collectors using manipulative and deceptive tactics to coerce and pressure you into fulfilling the obligations of a debt. It also requires debt collectors to provide proof they have the right to collect on the debt when you request documentation. If you believe a debt is not yours, you have the right to dispute that with the debt collector.
What Constitutes Harassment?
Debt collectors can violate the FDCPA for several reasons.
Excessive Phone Calls
When a debt collector calls you, it must be between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. They cannot call outside of those hours, and within those hours, they cannot make excessive, back-to-back phone calls, even if you do not answer them.
Suppose you have informed a debt collector you do not want to receive calls and have sent their office the same statement in writing, and they continue to call you. In that case, they are in violation of the FDCPA, and you can sue for harassment with a fair debt collection attorney.
Obligation to Pay a Debt Not Owed
A debt collector cannot request payment on a debt you do not owe. Ask for verification if a debt collector calls and claims you owe a debt. Every debt collector must show their information is accurate, leading back to the original creditor from whom they bought the debt.
If a debtor has threatened or coerced you into paying a debt that is not yours, they have committed an FDCPA violation and should be reported immediately. Debt collectors <cannot> obligate you to pay for family members’ debts.
If you are the victim of identity theft and the debtor does not acknowledge that with sufficient proof, you will need to contact an FDCPA attorney.
Illegal or Unethical Communication
Debt collectors cannot use violent, obscene, or abusive language when corresponding with you. A debt collector cannot impersonate a law enforcement agent or an attorney.
Debt collectors cannot contact immediate family members to pressure you to pay a debt. They cannot contact coworkers, bosses, or other individuals as a way to force or threaten you (even subtly) to pay a debt.
If you have proof a debt collector has committed an FDCPA violation and attempted to contact your place of employment to coerce you into an obligation or defame you, contact an FDCPA lawyer immediately. Once you hire a fair debt collection attorney, they will handle all communication with the debtor on your behalf.
Performing or Threatening Illegal Action
Debt collectors cannot threaten a lawsuit over debts that have lapsed or are outside the statute of limitations. They cannot threaten to garnish wages, put a lien on your property, or confiscate personal belongings as a way to satisfy a debt.
If a debt collector has threatened illegal actions against you, contact an FDCPA attorney’s office and schedule an appointment to speak with a fair debt collection attorney.
False Representation or Statements
Debt collectors usually portray themselves as law firms. They are not a law firm, though many have attorneys on retainer to sue on their behalf. The person you are speaking to is likely not an attorney, despite what they might imply.
Furthermore, statements made by the debt collector have to be factual and cannot be fabricated to increase the required debt due.
Sharing Information Without Consent
A debt collector cannot share your information with anyone. They cannot contact employers, family, or others `2c2cxand give out your personal or debtor information. If they do, they are committing an FDCPA violation, and you should contact a fair debt collection attorney immediately.
What Not to Do With Debt Collectors
While it may seem beneficial to lay out the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a debt collector, that is unwise and can be detrimental. Here are some things you should <not> say or do when a debt collectors call.
Do Not Acknowledge the Debt
If you acknowledge the debt as yours, you acknowledge you are responsible for it. If a debt collector calls and asks if a debt is yours, you can discuss it, but you shouldn’t ever say, “the debt is mine” or other such acknowledgments. Acknowledging a debt makes it more challenging to fight.
If you make a “good faith” payment on a debt, you have put yourself in a difficult spot. Making a payment on a debt is not only an acknowledgment of the debt but a confirmation that you are willing to pay the debt — which is exactly what debt collectors want.
Do Not Share Personal Banking Information
When you give any personal information to the debt collector, that personal information could be used against you. Avoid mentioning family members, personal property, and credit scores — the less you say to them, the better, especially if it goes to court.
Do Not Show Hostility
Even if the debt collector threatens you or uses abusive language, which is an FDCPA violation, you should not respond with hostility. When you react with hostility, it creates more conflict. Every confrontation or collection call is recorded so they can use your words and threats against you later.
Do not threaten the debt collector, as it will accomplish nothing. If you receive hostility from a debt collector in the form of threats or obscene language, contact an FDCPA lawyer immediately.
Suing a Debt Collector
Under the guidelines of the FDCPA, a debt collector can be sued for damages if they have violated the FDCPA. Fair debt collection attorneys will fight for you and violations of your rights against debt collectors and debt collection practices.
How Long Do You Have to File Suit?
You have one year from the date of the violation of the FDCPA to file a complaint with the court.
What Can I Sue For?
In most cases, you would be suing the debt collector for damages. Damages are defined as loss or harm to someone’s person, property, or reputation. For example, if a debt collector called your workplace and spoke to your boss and you were subsequently laid off or terminated, that would be damage you could sue for.
At Your Legal Rights Advocates, we ensure that your complaints about a debt collector committing an FDCPA violation will be addressed and answered. If you want to know how to sue debt collectors for FDCPA violations, we can provide you with the answers and strategies to successfully beat debt collectors.
If you are on a fixed or diminished income and are concerned about how to sue debt collectors for FDCPA violations, Your Legal Rights Advocates ensures you don’t pay anything until the final verdict. This means that you do not need to worry about anything until the resolution of the case. Our experienced fair debt collection attorneys can also demand the debt collector pays the legal fees.
How to Win Against Debt Collectors
Taking on an aggressive and faceless company can be difficult, but it is possible. The chances are higher with a fair debt collection attorney, but there are still several important things to keep in mind when going up against debt collectors in and out of the courtroom.
Do Not Contact Them
Once you have legal representation, all correspondence between you and the debt collection agency will be conducted through your attorney. That means letters, phone calls, and legal matters will be addressed and conveyed by your attorney.
When you bypass your fair debt collection attorney and speak to a debit collector directly, you can put be putting yourself into a situation that will be impossible to navigate.
Eliminate Emotional Responses
This one is the most difficult. If your debt collection goes to court, whether you are the one suing the agency or they are suing you, it may seem prudent to lean into an emotional response from the judge, who will be deciding your case. However, emotions cannot beat hard facts, so try to minimize emotional responses as much as possible. Make sure to give clear, concise, and factual evidence to support your claim.
If you are suing for damages, you will still need to provide factual evidence that the harassment and abuse by a debt collector led to an emotional response causing you to seek damages. We recommend consulting with a fair debt collection attorney to ensure every fact and piece of evidence is in order.
Never Provide Unnecessary Information
Giving unnecessary information leaves you open to having your words misconstrued or information used against you. When it comes time to fight a debt collector, never volunteer information. Remember, if they are coming after you with the intent to sue, the burden of proof is on them as the plaintiff.
Debt Collector Permissions
Despite being protected by the FDCPA, only some actions a debt collector takes against you are against the law. For example, you cannot sue a debt collector for damages if they report the debt to a credit reporting agency and leave a mark on your credit score. They have the right to look at your credit score to find your name, address, and other personal information available to the public, such as where you work.
Debt collectors can charge you for their legal fees if they sue you and win. Debt collectors can also get “default judgments” against you if you fail to acknowledge their lawsuit against you by failing to contact them and attempting to dispute the debt. A judgment is a court-ordered decision in a case.
A default judgment is granted when you fail to appear in court when required for the lawsuit. Default judgments are difficult and sometimes impossible to appeal and can result in garnishment of your wages or liens on your property. That is why you must contact and involve a fair debt collection attorney before legal action is taken against you.
Where Can You Find Help?
Your Legal Rights Advocates provides over 25 years of experience fighting off debt collectors committing FDCPA violations. Our fair debt collection attorneys will not rest until you receive the justice and aid you deserve.
Stop wasting time trying to end those abusive phone calls on your own. Let someone specialized in handling debt collection help and alleviate yourself of the emotional and mental stress caused by debt collector harassment.
If you have further questions, please check our frequently asked questions or contact us as soon as possible.