Your cell phone rings during dinner and you respond to the call. After all, you expect your business partner to call you to confirm a meeting scheduled for the next morning. However, your business partner is not on the line.
You have answered a call from a creditor, and the creditor immediately begins threatening you. On top of a wage garnishment threat, you have to deal with the embarrassment of dealing with a surly creditor.
Fortunately, you are protected from creditor threats by federal law.
Overview of the FDCPA
Approved by Congress and signed by President Ford on September 20, 1977, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prevents debt collectors from using abusive language and implementing unfair debt collection practices. The FDCPA defines a debt collector as anyone one who attempts to collect debts on a regular basis. A debt collector can work for a debt collection agency or be an attorney who specializes in collecting overdue debts. Debts covered under the FDCPA include family, personal, and household debts, such as money owed for a car loan and the mortgage on a home.
Threats and the FDPCA
The creators of the FDCPA wrote clear language into the bill that prohibits the following forms of threats:
- Using violence or other types of criminal behavior to cause physical harm or damage the reputation of a debtor
- Abusive language that implies the use of force to collect a debt
- Publishing a list of debtors and threatening every member of the list with legal action
- Advertising the sale of a debt to force a debtor to pay the entire amount owed
- Making repeated phone calls to abuse or harass a debtor
Damages Covered by the FDCPA
Debtors that prove their cases in a court of law are eligible to receive $1,000 for statutory damages. In addition, the court might award actual damages, which include physical and emotional damages, as well as compensation for lost wages and wage garnishment. The debt collector might also have to cover a debtor’s attorney fees. Physical damage awards typically cover easy to prove ailments like rashes, severe headaches, and cardiovascular issues. Stress and anxiety prompt attorneys to file damage claims for emotional distress.
Consult with an Experienced Attorney
We hear one question more than any other question when it comes to the FDCPA: When should I contact an attorney? Our answer is after the first time a debt collector threatens you. Many of our clients were not aware of the legal protections afforded by the FDCPA. The sooner you contact an experienced consumer protection attorney, the quicker your case is resolved either in a courtroom or through an out of courtroom agreement between you and the debt collector.
Many debt collectors bank on debtors not having any idea that a federal law protects them against debt collector threats. If you receive a threatening letter or phone call from a debt collector, fill out our Free Evaluation to speak with an FDCPA attorney in your area today.