How does the FDCPA help me with abusive debt collectors?

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The FDCPA is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act — a federal law that governs and regulates debt collectors.

So, how does it help me if I’m dealing with debt collectors?

It protects you from abuse by debt collectors.

This is important.  The FDCPA does not say it’s illegal to collect debt, and there are some people who will put that out on the internet.

They’ll say, “Oh, it’s illegal for any debt collector to collect a debt.”

No. It’s okay, it’s legal for debt collectors to collect debt, as long as they do it in the right way.

The law says to debt collectors, “It’s fine to collect, but you must do it in a proper manner.”

The FDCPA requires debt collectors to be truthful and to treat you fairly.

Now, there’s a whole bunch of different sections of it, but I’m just summarizing it into those two aspects.

First, they have to be truthful.

Second, debt collectors have to treat you fairly.

If the debt collector lies about what the collector will do, that would violate the FDCPA.

For example, if a debt collector lies to you about a debt, says you owe $5,000 when really you owe $1,000, that would violate the FDCPA.

Another example would be if a debt collector says, “If you don’t pay me right now, then on Friday, I’m going to call your payroll department, send over a fax and I will garnish your wages.”

Well, except for very unusual circumstances, it would be a lie to say this as the debt collector needs a judgment against you before it can garnish.

That would be a lie.

The debt collector says, “I’m going to call the police or call immigration on you,” or “I’m going to …” do all these other things that are lies, that they have no intention of doing, that would violate the FDCPA.

The collection agency can’t treat you unfairly — no dirty tricks.

This is broad and simply means to debt collectors — don’t mistreat people.  Treat people like human beings with respect and dignity.

For example, if they called your neighbors, called your co-workers, called your family.  These are unfair actions in almost every circumstance.

Again, there’s very limited circumstance where they can do that.

Instead, what we see these collectors do is they call your neighbors and they describe that as a “block party.”

They call your co-workers, and they describe that as an “office party.”

Then, they start calling family or ex-family, well that would be unfair.

Suing you after a statute of limitations expires would be unfair.  Because being sued many years after the supposed failure to pay the debt puts you in an unfair position of trying to defend something that happened a decade ago.  Instead the collectors need to stay within the rules.

Putting false information on your credit report, that would be a lie and it would be unfair.

There’s a bunch of specific things that the FDCPA prohibits, but then it also talks in general terms about you cannot be abusive, you cannot be deceptive, you cannot be unfair.

All of that is designed to say to debt collectors:

It’s okay to collect debt, but you have to do it in a proper and legal manner.

What happens if the FDCPA is violated?

Then, you sue that debt collector in federal court for money damages.

You also can get your attorney’s fees paid by the abusive debt collector you sue.

You can also get statutory damages even if you haven’t been hurt, but normally, if the FDCPA is violated, you will be hurt by that.

It would be emotional distress.

It would be economic loss.

There’s usually some type of actual damage that has occurred.

Awarding you damages encourages debt collectors to follow the law.

I’m going to say it slightly differently.

It discourages debt collectors from breaking the law.  (Interestingly, this is to protect consumers and honorable law abiding debt collectors).

Lots of good things happen when you sue the abusive debt collectors under the FDCPA.

My encouragement to you is discover your rights.

You’re doing that right now by watching this video or reading this article.

You want to keep discovering your rights and then make sure you take action.

That’s where you get real power.

Know what you’re supposed to do, and then you actually take action and do it.

That gives you real power.

Feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.

If you have general questions, comments, feel free to put those in a comment below, or if you have specific questions or you’re unsure, maybe is a debt collector violating the law?

Is it not violating the law?

What should I do?

Give us a call 205-879-2447 or you can contact us by filling out our contact form.

As long as you live in the state of Alabama, we’re more than happy to speak with you about any of your experiences with a debt collector.

Best Wishes.

John G. Watts

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