You knew the day would finally come. A third party debt collector has sent you a letter stating the agency has started the collection process by notifying you of an outstanding debt. You plan to pay back the debt until to you discover the amount sought by the debt collector exceeds what you believe to be the correct amount owed.
How do you deal with a third party debt collector that wants more money that it deserves?
An Introduction to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Third party debt collectors pretty much had their way with consumers until September of 1977, when the United States Congress passed a consumer protection law that leveled the playing field between consumers and debt collectors. The landmark Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires third party debt collectors to refrain from using abusive language and threatening tactics to collect debts for original creditors. Prohibition of aggressive debt collector behavior has not only helped millions of Americans retain their dignities, but also retain their physical and emotional health as well.
One section of the FDCPA does not receive as much attention as the prohibition of abusive and threatening behavior, but it should.
When Debt Collectors Try to Deceive
The FDCPA includes a provision that prohibits third party debt collectors from implementing deceptive debt collection practices. Examples of debt collector deception include trying to collect debts consumers have already paid and trying to collect more money that what you owe.
A debt collector can persuade you to pay more than is owed by claiming you owe money for interest charges and penalty fees on top of the delinquent debt balance. However, penalty fees and interest charges appear on the amount of money owed section of a lawsuit filed by the original creditor. Third party debt collectors do not have the legal power to charge you for interest and penalty fees.
As with abuse and threats, deception is clearly prohibited under the FDCPA. If you experience deception by a third party debt collector, the time has come to contact an attorney.
What an Experienced Attorney Can Do for You
You do not have to fight debt collector deception alone. A licensed and accomplished consumer protection attorney will provide you with the legal expertise to stop a deceptive debt collector in his or her tracks. Your attorney will send a certified letter asking the debt collector to stop harassing you for paying more than what you owe. Under the FDCPA, third party debt collectors can contact you only one more time after receiving a certified cease and desist letter.
Moreover, you might be eligible to win actual and statutory damages from a debt collector. Statutory damages cannot exceed $1,000, but actual damages can run several times that amount to compensate you for physical and/or emotional problems caused by the deception of a debt collector.