Some debt collectors utilize methods that are abusive, harassing, and ultimately, illegal. What many consumers don’t know is that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law, protects them from these types of collection efforts.
Any debt collection agent or firm that violates the FDCPA is breaking a federal law and subject to punishment. Punitive actions against collection agencies can range from fines and temporary suspensions to complete dismantlement of the debt collection business.
Building a strong case against a debt collector is essential if you want to hold the agent or collection firm accountable for their unethical and illegal actions. It is also crucial to protecting your own interests and to potentially receiving damages in a lawsuit against the firm or agent for breaking FDCPA regulations.
As with any case or lawsuit, you must have proof to support your claims. You must be able to show evidence that the collection agency or firm has broken federal laws. Knowing what evidence to collect for your case can be challenging though, especially given the stress that debt collectors can place on you. Here are the things that will help you build a strong case:
- Keep a log of debt collector communications, including phones calls and written notices. These may be calls or letters directed to you, your friends, your family members, or your employer. Even if the collection agent doesn’t leave a message, keep track of phone numbers, call frequency, and dates and times of messages, hang-ups, etc.
- Maintain copies of all written communications, including notices you receive and letters you send to the debt collector, especially if you’ve sent a “cease communications” notice.
- Preserve digital records, like caller ID logs and voicemail messages, if possible.
- Gather statements from any third parties the debt collector may have contacted. Unless the debt collector clearly stated he/she was simply trying to get ahold of you, any third-party communication is illegal under the FDCPA.
Debt collectors violate the law in a variety of ways and firms that don’t follow federal regulations often break multiple FDCPA rules. This means you may need to present evidence of the various ways in which a debt collector has crossed the line. An FDCPA attorney can help you understand your rights and can provide guidance on the types of evidence you need. He or she can additionally handle your claim in negotiations and at court, if necessary.