Debt collection can be a painstaking process, especially for the debtor. When it comes to filing a claim against a debt collector for unlawful practices, the debtor can be at a point where he or she wants the whole situation to just end quickly.
This brings the question: how long does it take to settle a claim for unfair debt collection practices? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
What is the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act?
Debtors are protected under what is called the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). This act offers guidelines and rules in terms of collection of consumer debts.
The FDCPA tells debt collectors what actions can and cannot be taken when collecting on a debt, and if a collector violates the law by pursuing an unlawful debt collection practice, the collector can be held liable in court for damages done to the debtor.
What Are the Remedies in the FDCPA?
Under the FDCPA, the debtor can receive a monetary fine, no more than the amount of $1,000, plus the costs of damages, including medical expenses and property damage, and reasonable attorney’s fees.
Is There a Statute of Limitations to the FDCPA?
The FDCPA requires that the debtor pursue a legal claim against the debt collector at least within one year of the alleged violation.
Therefore, if the debt collector is constantly contacting the debtor by calling him or her at work or home, the debtor has one year from the day that these calls occurred to bring the FDCPA, or at least one year from the point when these calls became harassing.
If the debtor does not bring the claim within this one-year period, like any other statute of limitation, the debtor will be barred from receiving relief for his or her claim.
How Quickly Will the FDCPA Claim Settle?
No one case is the same. How quickly the case concludes can depend on many factors, including how strong the case is. If the evidence is strong and in the favor of the debtor that the violation has occurred, the collector may not have much to stand on in terms of a defense.
For instance, if the debtor has a letter stating, “We are going to put you in jail for not paying this debt,” they will have a hard time proving that this is not a violation of the FDCPA.
If, however, there is some room for a good defense, the collector may attempt to see how much they can do to fight the claim, by responding with an answer in court or asking for a hearing. That type of action can certainly make the case take longer.
Another contributing factor to how quickly the case will settle is who the debt collector is. If the debt collector is a company that is a larger collection agency, they may be prepared for the fact that they will be committing FDCPA violations.
Many times, these larger companies have legal teams who are willing to work with the debtor’s attorney and enter into negotiations to settle a claim within weeks.
If the debt collector is less experienced and less prepared for these types of claims, they may not know how to handle the issue and may try to fight back needlessly, causing the situation to drag out more.
Generally, a good rule of thumb is that the case will take around 120 days from start to finish. However, that is not a hard and fast rule. It can depend on the case, the facts involved, and the above factors discussed.
Many times, the case can be completed fairly quickly. It helps to have legal assistance to push these matters along as attorneys are more likely to work quickly with another attorney. Further, a consumer attorney can educate the client on the process and what to expect.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you find yourself dealing in the middle of stressful debt collection proceedings, and it has gotten to the point where the debt collector has now violated the FDCPA, it may be time for you to talk with an attorney about your situation and what you can do to stop the harassment as soon as possible.
An attorney can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed. Contact an attorney experienced in fair debt collections proceedings to schedule a consultation today.