You arrive home one night after a grueling day of work to discover a message on the voicemail system. The message appears to be from a law enforcement agency that is demanding you take care of an outstanding debt, or else.
They say appearances can be deceiving and in this case, the timeless axiom is true. The message was not from a law enforcement agency, but instead, it was from a debt collection agency.
Fortunately, you do not have to put up with the false statements issued by a debt collection agency. Written into law by the United States Congress, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits a long list of debt collection tactics that previously were considered legal under US consumer protection laws.
The FDCPA bans bill collectors from implementing overly aggressive debt collection practices, as well as making false statements regarding consumer debts.
Examples of False Statements Made by Debt Collection Agencies
Although the FDCPA does not present an extensive list of barred false statements, judicial precedent has established a lengthy list that you can refer to if a third party debt collector lies to you.
In the example of a bill collector impersonating a law enforcement agency, you should know the company made a false statement. In fact, impersonating any organization is considered a violation of the false statements provision.
A debt collection agency like SIMMS Associates, Inc. cannot impersonate a law firm. Some companies claim to be attorneys to create a sense of urgency when it comes to collecting delinquent credit card and personal loan accounts. However, remember that there are a few third party debt collectors that are actually lawyers.
How to Deal with a Bill Collector that Makes False Statements
Virtually every FDCPA provision requires consumers to present enough evidence that confirms violations of the landmark federal consumer protection law. The false statements provision of the FDCPA underwent a major change in 2018, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit added an additional stipulation for false statements cases.
Now, consumers must prove a third party debt collector issued false statements and link the false statements to poor personal financial decisions. In other words, the false statements made by a debt collection agency must be “material” in impacting your ability to make sound personal financial decisions.
Making a Third Party Debt Collector Pay for FDCPA Violations
Under the FDCPA, consumers have the right to file claims in civil court that seek monetary damages for one or more violations of the FDCPA. You can seek statutory damages, which covers every FDCPA violation committed by the same bill collector. Statutory damages are capped at $1,000, which means that if you endured the pain and suffering caused by a debt collection agency, you might be eligible to receive uncapped actual damages.
A licensed consumer protection lawyer who specializes in litigating FDCPA cases will perform a thorough review of your case to determine whether there is plenty of compelling evidence to file a lawsuit seeking actual damages.
Schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced FDCPA lawyer to learn more about how the groundbreaking federal consumer protection law can help you.
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*Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against SIMMS Associates, Inc., or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to compensation.