Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDPCA, is a federal statute that regulates the manner in which consumer debts may be collected. Consumer debts are debts incurred for personal, family or household purposes. The law applies to "debt collectors" which generally means persons or businesses that collect debts that are owed or are asserted to be owed to another person or business.
"Original" creditors are not covered by the law's definition of "debt collector", therefore an employee of a business attempting to collect a debt for that business is not subject to the law. However keep in mind that once a debt has gone into default and been sold to a junk debt buyer, debt servicer, debt collector, and even the debt collection attorney, that new "owner" is considered a "debt collector" and is now subject to the FDCPA. While such individuals may attempt to collect a debt, they must do so without violating the restrictions found in the FDCPA.
When a debt collector violates the FDCPA, that law allows consumers the ability to bring a lawsuit against a debt collector
The law provides for the consumer to receive between $100 and $1000 in statutory damages (damages just because the law was broken) and any actual damages (to compensate your for any actual loss or harm you have incurred). Perhaps most importantly, the FDCPA provides that your attorney's fees shall be paid by the debt collector, so you don't have to pay your attorney anything.
Congress made sure that the consumer's attorney would be paid by the debt collector so that attorneys would accept debt collection cases from individual consumers who otherwise would not be able to afford legal representation.
While the FDCPA has been in effect since 1978, debt collectors, especially large-scale junk debt buyer and their affiliated lawyers continue to routinely violate the law. Consumers whom I have represented report that the debt collectors will telephone them constantly. Debt collectors and their lawyers frequently send you threatening letters. The debt collectors' calls or letters and the threats contained in those calls and letters frequently destroy your peace of mind to the point where many people simply stop answering the phone and become worried each time new mail is delivered to their residence.
You may find that debt collectors attempt to convince you to pay them money, even when you might not owe the "debt". And where the original debt is actually owed you frequently find that the amount alleged to be due is a grossly inflated amount, frequently hundreds or thousands of dollars greater than the original obligation. The FDCPA gives you a way to fight back against this illegal debt collection activity by using your own lawyer at no cost to you!
Author Kyle Mastro, Esq. - Civil Litigation Lawyer focusing on Debt Defense
Kyle L. Mastro, Esq.