Congress labeled certain debt collection practices as FDCPA violations. Certain practices, such as constant phone calls and threats, are illegal and stressful and annoying. The FDCPA provides relief to the consumer and punishes debt collectors that engage in illegal activities.
If you believe that a debt collector has acted illegally, you must report it to someone who can help you. And help is readily available. File a complaint online with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), another federal agency. Or you may contact a consumer protection attorney who may sue the debt collector on your behalf.
Congress Listed 43 FDCPA Violations That Apply to Debt Collectors
- Attempts to collect debts not owed 40% (These include debts that belong to another, paid debts, and debts resulting from identity theft).
- Communication tactics 18% (These involve frequent calls, calls to employers or other third parties, and threatening calls).
- Disclosure verification of debts 15% (These include debt collector’s failure to provide notice of right to dispute or failure to provide documentation of debt).
- Taking or threatening a legal action 11% (These include threats to arrest or jail and attempts to seize property or to collect from exempt funds such as child support).
- False statements or representations 9% (These include attempts to collect the wrong amount, impersonating an attorney or government official, or accusing the consumer of a crime for not paying).
- Improper contact or sharing of information 7% (These include improperly talking to a third party about the debt or contacting the consumer or his employer after being told not to do so).
What Happens if I complain about FDCPA Violations?
Your complaint filed with the FTC and the CFPB receives the same basic treatment. Your facts are reviewed, supporting information is gathered, an investigation is conducted and, if warranted, an enforcement action is started against the debt collector. However, this action is not taken specifically for your benefit. This action is taken against the debt collector to enforce the laws by halting FDCPA violations and, if appropriate, suing the debt collector for these violations. The case may be referred for criminal prosecution. These agencies share information with each other and with appropriate law enforcement and state agencies.
If you want to sue the debt collector for your injuries, you must have a consumer protection attorney represent you.
- Physical distress caused by the debt collector’s illegal action
- Emotional distress caused by the debt collector’s illegal action
- Lost Wages
- Wage garnishment recovery
- $1,000 in statutory damages
- Payment of your attorney fees and costs
What Happens to Debtor Collectors Who Have Committed FDCPA Violations?
Many violators are put out of business, fined, required to make restitution, and stripped of their assets. Some are prosecuted criminally, fined and imprisoned
Here are some examples from 2015 from the CFPB report:
- Three related credit companies and debt collectors agreed to a settlement requiring them to stop their illegal collections actions and provide over $2.5 million in consumer redress in the form of refunds or debt-forgiveness and to pay a $100,000 civil money penalty.
- A major debt buyer agreed to cease reselling debts, stop collections on $125 million worth of judgments, and halt collection of future debts after a finding that it threatened and deceived consumers to collect debts.
- An auto finance company agreed to overhaul their debt collection practices and to provide consumers $44.1 million in cash relief and balance reductions. The companies will also pay a civil penalty of $4.25 million. The company was charged with deceiving consumers by calling under false pretenses and using phony caller ID information, falsely threatening to refer borrowers for investigation or criminal prosecution, and illegally disclosing information about debts to borrowers’ employers, friends, and family.
If a debt collector has been hounding you, to speak with a representative directly and immediately call 844-685-9200 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our attorneys have experience in fighting debt collectors and standing up for consumers. If a debt buyer has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you’re entitled to file suit in federal court and could be awarded up to $1,000 and other damages.