Consumers should look into the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) if they feel that they are being subject to harassment or mistreatment by third party collection agencies. They may be able to collect compensation, usually called damages. Founded by an act on Congress in 1977, the FDCPA amended the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Now, its main goal is to protect consumers from unlawful and unethical collections practices. The FDCPA regulates that debt collectors may and may not conduct themselves in certain ways. Generally, the collection company may not contact customers outside of certain hours, use threatening or profane language, or contact other parties about a consumer’s debt. They must be honest, give written notice of a debt, respect privacy and follow the legal process.
If you decide to file a claim against a collector, it is important to prove that the debt collector was in violation of FDCPA. There are several ways to build evidence against a collector. Remember to keep all correspondence between yourself and the collection agency. That means everything that you have sent them and everything that they have sent you. Consider how you would like to keep a log of violations during calls. You could write down offenses committed during calls to build your case. Also, you could keep audio recordings of calls where violations occur. It is strongly encouraged that consumers record all violations in some way. If the collector has contacted your spouse, employer, or other people in regard to you, consider asking them to be witnesses. Their testimony could prove to be invaluable during a case against the collector.
A few methods are available to consumers that wish to file a claim against a collection agency that they feel are in violation of FDCPA. The best, and most recommended method is to file a claim in a state court. There are a wide range of attorneys who can help you to do this. A consumer can find them by conducting an internet search of collection attorneys or asking your state’s bar association. In a state court, a consumer will be able to show the court any and all case materials that they may have. Also, the highest amount of damages are collectible in state court. The other options available are to file in small claims court, with the state attorney general, or with the FTC. Consumers typically have up to one year from the date of the incident to file a claim.
Consumers have several methods that can be employed to file a claim against collectors who are believed to have violated FDCPA. Consumers can file claims with:
- The FTC
- The state attorney general
- Small claims court
The best and most effective way to file, however, is in state court. Consumers will have the opportunity to not only show all evidence in their claim, but the possible amount of damages that can be awarded are greatest here. Consulting an attorney will be simple, as many specialize in collection claims. They can be found by asking the bar association of the state, or searching online for collection attorneys. Often times, consumers have up to one year from the incident date to file any claim.