When it comes to dealing with a harassing debt collector, most people know they have the right to file a claim to dispute the illegal actions of the debt collector. However, they may not know where to start or even know what is needed to complete the process.
What is needed to start an FDCPA claim? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
First, it is important to understand what the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is before proceeding with a claim. The FDCPA was created in 1977 under the Consumer Protection Act.
Consumers are protected under the FDCPA when they feel that they are being subjected to harassment or illegal collections actions by third party collection agencies.
The FDCPA details what debt collectors are and are not allowed to do when collecting on a consumer debt, including what hours are off limits, prohibition of threats or profane language, and contacting other third parties about the consumer’s debt.
Under the FDCPA, the debtor must tell the collection company in writing that they must cease all contact with the debtor. He or she must also inform the debt collector what illegal activities have been done by the collection agency, informing them that these actions violated the FDCPA.
Any further contact at this point, other than to confirm receipt of the written notice and to inform the debtor of what they intend to do to pursue the debt. If communication continues, then the debtor has the opportunity to pursue legal claims for damages against the collection agency.
It Is All About Evidence
The most important thing a debtor needs to prove that a collection agency has violated the FDCPA is actual proof of the violation. The debtor needs to prove that the collection agency has violated the act, and this is normally done through correspondence or communication between him or her and the agency.
The best rule of thumb is to keep everything. Keep any letters received by the agency, as well as any voicemails or text messages sent. It is always recommended that debtors record calls as they are received by collection agencies.
Write down when these interactions have occurred and what the result was. If the collection agency has contacted the debtor’s spouse or friends and family, it is important that these people keep track of these communications, as well. They may need to be utilized as witnesses for any court proceedings.
If the debtor decides to file a case in court, this information can all be submitted to prove the case that the debt collection agency as utilizing unfair or illegal tactics to collect on the debt. A consumer law attorney will be able to help the client sort through what information will help or not help in the case.
Proof of Damages
If the debtor is filing a case in court to pursue damages caused by the debt collector because of the harassment, he or she will also need to have proof of damages caused. He or she will need more than just showing that the calls and contact from the debt collector were annoying.
The debtor will need to show proof that the calls have caused him or her some amount of monetary damages. These damages include lost wages, emotional distress, physical distress and more. If the distress has caused the debtor to have to seek medical attention, any bills could assist in this proof.
Lost wages could be proven by proof of income or pay stubs for the debtor. Again, a consumer law attorney can assist the debtor in putting together what is needed to prove a certain level of damages.
Attorneys’ fees are also normally a part of the damages award given in an FDCPA claim so the attorney will also need to provide some type of evidence showing the work done on the case.
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.