We now look at what are some of the more common types of violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that will allow an Alabama consumer to sue a debt collector or debt buyer. Our previous post listed the four requirements that must be present in order to be under the protection of the FDCPA.
While the FDCPA is a rather detailed statute that covers many types of violations, for our purposes the FDCPA is violated when any of the following occurs by a debt collector (i.e. “collection agency” or debt buyer):
1. Untrue statements to the Alabama consumer; or
2. Unfair statements or conduct towards the Alabama consumer; or
3. Disrespectful conduct or language towards the Alabama consumer; or
4. Undignified treatment of the Alabama consumer by the debt collector.
We will look at these four types of violations in detail later but here is a quick example on each one.
If, for example, a debt collector lies to an Alabama consumer by saying a lawsuit has been filed when no lawsuit has been filed – that is a violation. It’s a lie or “untrue statement” to intimidate the Alabama consumer into paying a debt (which may or may not be owed).
One of the most common “unfair” dirty tricks of debt collectors is to call family members (other than a spouse) or co workers or neighbors and ask them to “get a message to Joe Consumer because he won’t call me back for an important business matter” – this is absolutely against the law and is unfair because it invades the consumer’s privacy and brings the pressure of “shame” on him or her in order to force a payment of a debt. We will discuss this in detail later but many people have been forced by this unfair and dirty trick type of tactic to pay bills that they do not owe because they cannot deal with the embarrassment of family or neighbors or co-workers knowing that the consumer supposedly owes a debt and is not paying it.
If a debt collector uses profanity or screams insults at an Alabama consumer – this would qualify as “disrespectful” language and would violate the FDCPA.
If the debt collector put a note up on the door that says an Alabama consumer is a deadbeat – this would qualify as “undignified” behavior.
If you are dealing with a debt collector or a debt buyer, we suggest you contact a consumer attorney to help you and to advise you on whether the debt collector has crossed the line into illegal debt collection. Please feel free to contact us if you live in Alabama.
Another resource for you is to join our Facebook Fan Page – Alabama Consumer Protection Attorneys where we share useful information about the same types of issues that we cover in this blog.