The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, can provide damages to any consumers who feel that they were subject to harassment or ill treatment by collection agencies. The FDCPA was created in 1977 and serves as protection against illegal and unethical practices that some collection companies employ against consumers. The FDCPA regulates both what is allowed and what is forbidden by collection companies. A collection agency should contact the consumer in writing about the debt, respect privacy, follow the law, and be honest.
A collection agency is required to provide specific information regarding a customer’s debt. If they have not informed you of this in the initial contact, they must send it in written form. If a collection agency has not sent a letter summarizing your debt without giving you the information on first contact, they are in violation of FDCPA. They must provide the letter within 5 days of initial contact. The collection agency must provide:
- Name of collection agency that is pursuing the debt
- Amount of the debt
- How you can verify or dispute the debt
If you do not receive this information in either written or verbal format, contact the collection agency. If they cannot or will not provide this info, contact FTC. You should not attempt to make a payment or take any other action before obtaining this information.
There are several ways that you can file a claim against a collection agency that violates the FDCPA. You can file in small claims court, with the FTC or with the state attorney general. We recommend that you file the claim in state court. You will have the opportunity to present all of your case materials, and you have the opportunity to collect the largest amount of damages possible. You will have a wide range of attorneys who handle collection claims. These attorneys can be located by contacting the bar association or doing an online search of collection attorneys. Also, consumers can research collection attorneys on the internet. Usually, you will have one year from the date of the incident in which to file.