If a debtor has been the victim of unfair or unethical debt collection practices, he or she has rights under the law to seek damages against the debt collector who was responsible for the behavior.
However, the debtor has several different avenues available to him or her when it comes to where to report a violation. We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act
The law provides protections to debtors when it comes to debt collection practices of third-party collectors. These agencies are often hired by the original creditor who made the original loan or extension of credit, with the sole purpose of collecting these past-due accounts.
However, when the collection efforts take a turn towards harassing or threatening behavior, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) offers compensation for debtors who have been hurt or damaged by these practices.
The law is part of a larger law created in 1977, the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and the FDCPA gives a specific outline of what behaviors are not allowed when it comes to debt collections. If a collector violates the law, the debtor has avenues available to him or her where the behavior can be reported.
Report to Government Agency
The debtor can report the debt collector to the appropriate government agency. The first of these is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is in charge of overseeing all debt collector actions and ensuring that federal trade law is followed.
Their web site has an online complaint form where debtors can directly report a violation after it has occurred. Similarly, the debtor can report the violation to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The CFPB is a governmental entity that takes complaints from consumers against debt collectors and funnels these directly to the creditors. Creditors are not always aware of the bad behavior of the debt collectors they hire, and the CFPB works to make sure the creditors are a part of the solution when it comes to unfair debt collection practices.
Like the FTC, the CFPB has an online portal where complaints can be submitted directly.
Attorney General Complaints
The debtor collector may not just be violating federal trade practices but state law as well. The debtor may want to make a complaint to the state attorney general to make that office aware of the behavior of the debt collector.
If this company happens to have a track record of violations, the state will want to build a case to possibly prevent the company from continuing its debt collecting business. The attorney general will also be able to assist the debtor in following through with legal action, if necessary.
Better Business Bureau
The debtor can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, as he or she should. While the BBB cannot take legal action, they can be of assistance in mediating disputes between debt collectors and debtors.
Further, they keep a log of debt collectors who have violated fair trade practices in the past, so if a debtor finds himself or herself involved in a similar situation, he or she should be able to easily access this information to better the case against the debt collector.
File an FDCPA Lawsuit
The debtor has legal recourse if he or she is the victim of unfair debt collection practices at the hand of a debt collector. This lawsuit is brought in state court, filed by the debtor directly naming the debt collector.
If he or she is successful, the debtor could receive up to $1,000 in statutory damages, and if the debtor has suffered physical or emotional damages, the amount awarded could be more.
If a debtor wishes to pursue this avenue, it is recommended that he or she consult with a consumer attorney and retain their services if it is anticipated that the debt collector will also hire legal counsel.
Out of all of the forms of relief this one is the most time-consuming but is the one that provides direct, monetary relief to the debtor due to the FDCPA violations.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you find yourself dealing in the middle of stressful debt collection proceedings and you have questions about what to expect, it is recommended you talk to an experienced attorney. 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.