Have you had debt collectors call you at unreasonable hours? Have they called you at work in an attempt to embarrass you in front of your employer or fellow workers? Have debt collectors tried to hide their identity on the phone? Have they used underhanded tactics, threatened, or harassed you? If so, you might be able to collect money damages against the same people who are trying to collect money from you.
If any of your creditors utilizes a third party to collect a financial obligation allegedly owed by you, then the third party debt collector is required to strictly comply with the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The provisions of this act are very specific, and any of the following violations may allow you to make your own claim for compensation against the debt collector:
1. Did the debt collector call before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm?
2. Were you asked to pay interest, late fees, attorney fees, or expenses that are not allowed by law?
3. Were third parties repeatedly called in an effort to obtain your location?
4. Did the debt collector use obscene, profane or abusive language?
5. Were third parties informed about your indebtedness?
6. Did the debt collector call repeatedly or continuously?
7. Were you asked to pay more money than you actually owed?
8. Were you threatened with violence, or with other threats that that were unlawful in order to collect the debt?
9. Were you contacted at work after the debt collector had been made aware that your employer does not approve of such contacts?
10. Did the debt collector fail to provide a written debt validation?
11. Did the debt collector ignore a cease communication notice and continue to make collection call attempts?
12. Did the debt collector lie or falsely imply that you committed a crime?
13. Did the debt collector conceal its identity on the phone?
14. Were you harassed by the debt collector?
How to stop the calls?
There are two solid methods to stop debt collectors’ calls. The first is to have a law firm draft and serve a cease and desist letter. This letter places the debt collector on notice that all further collection calls have to be directed to the law firm and not the debtor. If the debt collector ignores this letter, then the debt collector has committed a violation of the FDCPA and may be liable in money damages to you.
The second method to stop the annoying collection attempts is to file for bankruptcy protection. An appropriate bankruptcy action will generally stop most collection calls, litigation, garnishments and other debt collection and enforcement actions. Any collection attempts made after the filing of a bankruptcy petition may result in severe sanctions imposed on the debt collector by the bankruptcy court.
What if your rights have been violated?
If your rights under the FDCPA have been violated, then you may have a cause of action against the violating debt collector. There is a rather short period of time (one year) when this action must be brought. Accordingly, if a violation has occurred, it is best to immediately contact a law firm that handles in such actions.
What amount of compensation can you receive for such a claim? The FDCPA provides that one may be able to recoup $1,000.00 plus actual damages and attorney fees for every violation by the debt collector.