A debt collector has the right to pursue collection of an unpaid debt that is in default. A debt collector does not have the right to violate your rights, which are guaranteed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
The FDCPA guarantees your protection from harassment, verbal abuse and threatening or intimidating actions from collection agencies. When a debt collector crosses the line, then it is your turn to consider legal action.
Most people avoid taking legal action when their rights are violated because they:
- do not understand their rights,
- do not think they can win, and
- cannot afford to hire an attorney.
However, FDCPA lawsuits are often filed on behalf of debtors by attorneys who will be paid by the offending party. What this means is that they normally take your case for free, and their attorney fees are paid by the collection agency if they win.
Bona fide FDCPA infractions made against you that you can prove are eligible for a $1,000 penalty to be paid to you by the collection agency. This means that you do not have to tolerate being a victim of overly aggressive collection agencies or their agents.
You do not necessarily need an attorney to file a lawsuit. However, due to the complexities of these cases, an experienced attorney is highly recommended if you choose to take action against a debt collector. Given the fact that FDCPA cases are normally handled at no cost to the debtor, hiring an attorney to sue debt collectors is really a no-brainer.
What Qualifies as an FDCPA Case?
- $1,000 penalty for debt collector who misrepresents themselves or the debt
- $1,000 penalty for debt collector who illegally renews date of last activity to keep the account on your credit report longer
- $1,000 penalty when you dispute a debt but debt collector does not show the account in dispute on your credit report
- $1,000 penalty when collection agencies continue calling you after you formally request that they cease all calls
- $1,000 penalty when debt collector reports the debt to credit bureaus and/or pursues judgment after failing to honor your requested validation of debt within 30 days of first contact
- $1,000 penalty when debt collector who cashes a post-dated check before the date on the check
- $1,000 penalty when debt collector seizes personal property or threatens to do so without first winning a judgment
- $1,000 penalty for collection calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- $1,000 penalty for collection calls made to your employer after they are notified your employer does not allow such calls to be made
- $1,000 penalty for harassment or abusive language
- $1,000 penalty when debt collector claims they will arrest you, seize your property or garnish your wages when they have not obtained a judgment against you
- $1,000 penalty for calling unofficial third parties (family, friends, neighbors) and revealing that you owe a debt
Additional penalties are possible for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Due to the complexities of FDCPA cases, it is strongly encouraged that you seek competent legal advice from a licensed attorney prior to suing debt collectors. As is true with any part of this website, the information presented is believed to be accurate, it is provided for educational purposes, and no portion should be misconstrued to be legal advice.
Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.
Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.
In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.
Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."