If you’ve been harassed or otherwise had your consumer rights violated by a debt collector, you may be entitled to compensation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tracks violations of consumer rights and has the authority hold debt collection agencies accountable for their violations. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the federal law under which collection agents can be prosecuted in federal court.
The FDCPA contains provisions that specifically state a debt collector can be held financially liable for violations. The offending agency or collector may be required to pay $1,000 per violation of federal regulations. Court costs and other legal fees can also be included in damages you seek in a collection case, and if your claim goes to trial with a jury, the jury may award additional damages.
In some cases, collection agencies call consumers hundreds of times over the course of the weeks or months of their debt collection activities. Each and every phone call may be a violation of FDCPA rules. In a case like this, a debt collector may be fined tens of thousands of dollars.
While most lawsuits against debt collectors don’t result in huge settlements or damage awards, some do. According to Fox Business, in 2015, a Kansas City woman was awarded more than $83 million in a case where a debt collection firm hounded her for months and tried to sue her for a debt that was not hers. $250,000 was awarded for the FDCPA violation, and an additional $82,990,000 was awarded for punitive damages.
Although an outcome like this is unusual, damages in a debt collection case can be substantial, especially if you can prove that your mental or physical wellbeing was affected by the collection company’s harassment. You may receive a settlement offer of several thousand or even tens of thousands of dollars. An FDCPA attorney can help you determine how much your case may be worth and can assist you throughout the legal process.