Does a Debt Collection Agency Violate the FDCPA When Charging an Unauthorized Fee?
- October 18, 2013
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By: Robert J. Nahoum
You’ve been contacted by a debt collection agency trying to collect a debt. You’ve agreed to pay the debt but the debt collection agency charges you a “collection fee”. Can they do that?
Under federal debt collection laws known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA for short), a debt collection agency cannot collect or try to collect a fee unless the fee is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by state law. In other words, the FDCPA allows the collection of an additional amount if state law expressly permits it, even if the contract is silent on the matter; however, if state law neither affirmatively permits nor expressly prohibits collection of an additional amount, the amount can only be collected if the consumer expressly agrees to it in the contract.
Examples of additional fees include:
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
If you are making a payment to a debt collection agency and are being charged an additional fee, take a look at the agreement creating the debt and look up the state law to see if the fee is authorized. If it’s not or if you have any doubt, call a qualified consumer protection attorney to see if you are being illegally charged an unauthorized fee.
If a debt collection agency violates the FDCPA, you can sue the debt collection agency for statutory damages up to $1,000.00, actual damages (like pain and suffering) and the debt collection agency may have to pay for your attorney.
If you need help settling or defending a debt collection law suit, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you.