Common Debt Collector Violations
If you are being contacted by debt collectors, the attorneys at Fields Law will review the methods that the creditor and debt collection agencies have used, to make sure they have not violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, or Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Sometimes our clients are not even aware that a debt collector had violated the law. They assume that all the stress and anxiety caused by unscrupulous debt collectors are just something they have to live with.
We will make sure that debt collectors follow the law, and help you turn the tables on them by bringing a suit against the debt collector if they don’t.
Examples of situations where we can put the debt collectors on the defense include:
- Creditor Harassment – Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) Violations
- Credit Reporting Errors – Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Violations
- Illegal Telephone Calls – Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Violations
If debt collectors are contacting you about your past-due bills, the debt settlement lawyers at Fields Law can help. We can help you understand your options, and make sure the debt collectors aren’t violating your rights. Call us today for free, no-obligation advice.
Can a debt collector contact my friends and family regarding my debt?
Debt collectors have a reputation of being unethical and going to any lengths to collect on a debt, but can a debt collector go as low as to contact your friends or family regarding your debt? The answer is No.
As a consumer, you have rights and protections under the Fair Debt Collection Protection Act, which strictly prohibits any debt collector from contacting any third party regarding your debts. This means a debt collector cannot contact any third party by mail, telephone, email, or post card, pertaining to your debt.
There is, however, a select few ways for debt collectors to contact your friends or family, and it is imperative that the difference is clear. If a debt collector contacts someone other than the owner of the debt, they must:
- Identify themselves and provide their contact information; and
- Only ask questions that pertain to acquiring location information about the consumer such as: Address, telephone number, and employer.
The Debt Settlement attorneys at Fields Law Firm have settled several claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act where a debt collector had sent a collection notice to a third party.
One specific case involved a wife whose husband had passed away a few years prior. The husband had an alleged debt with a debt collection company, but his wife was never named on the account. When the debt collector sent the wife a debt collection notice directly, the debt collector violated the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act. The Fields Law Firm attorneys were able to bring a claim against the debt collector and the wife was awarded $1,000, and was deemed not responsible for her deceased husband’s debt.
Can a Debt Collector Contact Anyone Else About My Debt?
Yes, but this right is limited. If an attorney is representing you about the debt, the debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you. If you don’t have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out your address, your home phone number, and your place of work. Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting third parties more than once. Other than to obtain this location information about you, a debt collector generally is not permitted to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.
Can A Debt Collector Report A Disputed Debt To A Credit Reporting Agency?
After you dispute a debt, the debt collector is not allowed to report it to a credit reporting agency unless and until it verifies the debt. If the debt collector reported your debt to the credit reporting agencies prior to receiving your dispute letter, the debt collector must then notify the credit reporting agencies and update the status of the debt as “disputed.” After receiving your dispute and sending verification of the debt, the debt collector is then obligated to report the debt as a “disputed” from there on forward.
In What Ways Are Debt Collectors Allowed To Contact Me?
Debt collectors can contact you by telephone, letter, email, or text message to collect a debt, provided they follow the law and disclose that they are “debt collectors attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose.” No matter how they chose to communicate with you, it’s against the law for a debt collector to pretend to be someone else—such as an attorney or government agency—or to harass, threaten, or deceive you.
Can A Debt Collector Contact Me At Any Time Or At Any Place?
No. Debt collectors are limited as to the time and place that they may contact a consumer debtor. Debt collectors cannot call you before 8:00 A.M. or after 9:00 P.M., unless you give prior consent to telephone calls at such times. Debt collectors are also not allowed to contact you at work if they’re told, orally or in writing, that you’re not allowed to receive telephone calls at your place of employment.
What Does The Debt Collector Have To Tell Me About The Debt?
Every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice must also include the name of the creditor to whom you allegedly owe the money and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.
Can A Debt Collector Keep Contacting Me If I Don’t Think I Owe Any Money?
If you send the debt collector a letter stating that you don’t owe any or all of the money, or asking for verification of the debt, that collector must stop contacting you. You have to send that letter within 30 days after you receive the validation notice. However, a collector can begin contacting you again if it sends you written verification of the debt, like a copy of a bill for the amount you owe.
Can I Stop A Debt Collector From Contacting Me?
Yes. If a collector contacts you about a debt, you may want to talk to them at least once to see if you can resolve the matter – even if you don’t think you owe the debt, can’t repay it immediately, or think that the collector is contacting you by mistake. If you decide after contacting the debt collector that you don’t want the collector to contact you again, tell the collector—in writing—to stop contacting you. This can be done by following these easy steps:
- Draft a letter requesting that the collector stop contacting you in regard to the alleged debt;
- Make a copy of your letter; and
- Send the original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll be able to document what the collector received.
Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again, with two exceptions: 1) a collector can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact, and 2) a collector can contact you to let you know that they or the creditor intend to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit against you to obtain a judgment. Sending such a letter to a debt collector you owe money to does not get rid of the debt, but it should, and is supposed to by law, stop the contact. The creditor or the debt collector still can sue you to collect the debt.
Do I Have Any Recourse If I Think A Debt Collector Has Violated The Law?
Yes. You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date of the legal violation. If you win, the judge can require the collector to pay you for any damages you can prove you suffered because of the illegal collection practices, like lost wages and medical bills.
The judge can require the debt collector to pay you up to $1,000 in statutory damages, even if you can’t prove that you suffered actual damages. You also can be reimbursed for your attorney’s fees and court costs. A group of people also may sue a debt collector as part of a class action lawsuit and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector’s net worth, whichever amount is lower. Even if a debt collector violates the FDCPA in trying to collect a debt, the debt does not go away if you owe it.
If you believe a debt collector violated the law, you may have a claim against them under the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act. Contact the Consumer Law attorneys at Fields Law Firm today and see how we can stop harassment from debt collectors.