By: Robert J. Nahoum
Federal debt collection laws known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA for short) regulates the collection of consumer debts by third party debt collectors. The FDCPA precludes debt collectors from using false, misleading, deceptive and harassing debt collection tactics.
A “debt collector” is defined under the FDCPA as “any person who . . . [operates] any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect . . . debts owed . . . another.” The definition also includes any original creditor who “in the process of collecting his own debts, uses any name other than his own which would indicate that a third person is collecting or attempting to collect such debts.”
Attorneys hired to collect debts may be held liable as a “debt collectors” under the FDCPA, where they “regularly” engage in debt collection. Like all other debt collectors, debt collection attorneys are prohibited from using any false, deceptive, or misleading representations or means in connection with the collection of any debt.
Many debt collection law firms act more like glorified collection agencies than traditional law firms. Through the powers of the court, they are able get judgments, freeze bank accounts, garnishee wages and issue subpoenas.
Some common FDCPA violations include:
- Communicating with you when they know you have an attorney
- Misrepresenting the amount or status of the debt
- Suing you on a time barred debt (usually 6 years)
- Calling your friends and family
- Adding unauthorized fees to the account
- Calls to work without permission
- Call before 8 am or after 9 pm
- An unreasonable number of times of calls (repeatedly or continuously)
- Sued in a judicial district other than where you live or signed the contract sued upon
If a debt collection attorney violates the FDCPA, you can sue for statutory damages up to $1,000.00, actual damages (like pain and suffering) and the debt collection attorney 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.