Debt Collection Abuse
In these difficult economic times, any of us can fall behind in paying our credit card bills, doctor bills, phone bills or other bills. When you owe someone money, you are a debtor and the person you owe it to is a creditor. Once your account goes into default, creditors often hire a collection agency or a collection attorney to get you to pay, rather than trying to collect from you directly. Although debt collectors may use legitimate methods to get you to pay your debt, they are not allowed to badger, harass or deceive you in the process. The Law Office of David C. Ricci, LLC, is here to protect your rights if you are a victim of debt collection abuse.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
Debt collectors commit many different types of abusive collection practices and technical violations of the law. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the primary law that regulates what debt collectors can and cannot do. The FDCPA prohibits not only obvious abusive practices, such as threats of violence, but also lying or deception, such as telling you that it is a crime not to pay the debt. Furthermore, when debt collectors contact you by phone, mail or any other way, the law requires that they identify themselves as debt collectors and state that they are contacting you trying to collect on a debt.
If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you may be entitled to up to $1,000 in damages under the law, plus any actual damages you may have suffered, plus your attorney’s fees. Please remember to save any letters or voicemail messages you receive from debt collectors. This helps to evaluate your claim and document any violations. Contact The Law Office of David C. Ricci, LLC, to set up a free, confidential consultation.
Do I Have a Claim Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The FDCPA has many protections for consumers built into it. Debt collectors often violate provisions of the law. For example, one requirement is that in its first collection notice to you, the debt collector must state that you have a right to dispute any or all of the debt in writing. If the debt collector doesn’t state all of your rights and use the proper wording, they may have violated the FDCPA. In addition, if any of the following has happened to you, the debt collector may have violated the FDCPA:
- Phony Collection Fees or Interest Charges
Your contract or agreement will spell out what collection fees and interest the creditor may charge. Debt collectors cannot simply come up with a collection fee if you did not agree to it in your contract with the creditor or if the fee is not specified by law.
- Unlawful Contact
Generally, debt collectors cannot call you after 9pm or before 8am, or call you at work if they know that your employer does not allow such calls. They cannot contact you if they know that you are represented by an attorney. After you have notified them in writing to stop contacting you or that you refuse to pay the debt, they cannot contact you trying to collect.
- Harassment, Threats and Abuse
Debt collectors cannot threaten to hurt you, curse at you or use abusive language with you. Debt collectors cannot try to embarrass you into paying by threatening to tell your friends, co-workers or neighbors about your debt.
- Deception, Lies and Misrepresentation
When contacting you whether by phone or in writing, debt collectors cannot lie, mislead or deceive you. In their first contact with you, they must identify themselves as debt collectors. Furthermore, they must state that they are trying to collect on a debt, any information they receive will be used to collect on a debt and that you have a right to dispute any or all of the debt. Debt collectors cannot lie about the amount of the debt or tell you there is a legal judgment against you for the debt if this is not true.
These are just some of the many ways that debt collectors violate the FDCPA. It can be hard for you to know whether a debt collector broke the law when dealing with you. Please contact The Law Office of David C. Ricci, LLC, to schedule a free, confidential consultation to evaluate your claim.
Fill out the contact form or call us at 973-218-2627 to schedule your free consultation.