Debt collectors are harassing consumers in the name of collecting debt for a long time. To stop their illegal debt collection practices, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It is a set of rules and guidelines that control the activity of the credit collectors and debt collection agencies.
As per the FDCPA Act, consumers have the right to sue a debt collector who has violated the FDCPA rule. In addition to this, many states have executed their own version of FDCPA to provide greater protection to the consumers.
But many consumers don't understand when to have a lawsuit against a harassing debt collection agency.
Read the article to know when you can take legal steps against an abusive debt collector or collection agency.
When consumers can file a lawsuit against abusive debt collectors
As per the successful attorneys, there are 4 requirements for a debt collection case.
The requirements are:
- The person who wants to file a lawsuit against a debt collector should be a consumer
- The debt should be personal, family, or household debt (any consumer debt). A business debt will not be entertained.
- It should be a collection agency or a debt collector against whom you want to file a lawsuit.
- The FDCPA law should have been violated by the debt collector.
How can a consumer file a lawsuit against an abusive debt collector?
1. You can sue a harassing debt collector in a state court
If you believe that the debt collector has violated the FDCPA Act, you can file a lawsuit against the debt collector in your state court.
However, filing the case is not enough; you have to prove that the debt collector had harassed you.
If you can prove, you are eligible to collect about $1000 in statutory damages. The compensation can be more if you have suffered harm from the violations. You need to appoint an attorney to represent your lawsuit.
Though this is a time taking process, yet you can get good monetary compensation once you win the lawsuit successfully.
2. Consumer can file a lawsuit without an attorney in the small claims court
If a consumer doesn't want to hire an attorney, then the person can consider the small claims court to argue the case. The consumer needs to file a simple court document to process the case.
The process will take less than 2 months to finish after the lawsuit is filed.
Well, the small claims court provides less monetary compensation.
3. Consumer can report against the debt collectors to the SAG (State Attorney General)
A harassed consumer can contact the state attorney general to report the violation. Some state follows FDCPA Act strictly to protect consumers. So, if the state attorney general gets violation report against a debt collector multiple times, the lawsuit might be filed on behalf of the state.
4. You can report the violation to a Govt. agency
The mission of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is to provide consumer protection from harassment. FTC also ensures that the FDCPA act is not violated by any debt collectors. Thus, you can contact FTC to report against the debt collector who had harassed you or violated the FDCPA rules. You can submit your complaint online using the FTC's Complaint Assistant website www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
Another agency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), also works as a problem solver. If a consumer complaints against a creditor, the CFPB tries to find a solution to the problem. You can submit your complaint here: www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint.
Most of the times, when creditors can't collect the debts on their own, can contact the collection agencies (debt buyers). Not all collection agencies harass consumers to get the money from the debtors. But, some collection agencies apply unethical tactics like calling family members, co-workers, or boss, for the money. Sometimes, they threat or use abusive language to compel the debtors to pay back the required amount. . These tactics are considered as a violation of the FDCPA Act. In that case, you need to consult with an experienced debt collection attorney to discuss the matter and get the right advice. Consultations will not charge you a fee and keep your information confidential as well.