After your lunch break, you return to the office to find an ominous message left on your work voicemail system. A debt collection agency called to tell you that it plans to pursue debt collection efforts against you. The representative from the third party debt collector explains you can go to jail for not taking care of the outstanding credit card or personal loan account. Stunned, you wonder if you have any rights at all when it comes to dealing with an overly aggressive debt collector.
Fortunately, the United States Congress balanced the scales of justice by writing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) into law. Considered the consumer Bill of Rights, the FDCPA outlaws dozens of previously acceptable debt collection tactics.
According to the FDCPA, a debt collection agency such as Greenberg, Grant & Richards cannot threaten to seize your property to liquidate it into cash. The company is barred from calling you between the hours of 9 pm and 8 am as well. In addition, the FDCPA prohibits third party debt collectors from making false statements regarding consumer debts.
Impersonation is a Blatant False Statement
Misrepresentation, which is otherwise known as impersonation, is strictly forbidden by the FDCPA. In our example, a bill collector left a message claiming it has the power to put you in jail for not paying off the alleged debt. You should know the United States criminal justice system does not punish consumers for not taking care of their personal financial obligations.
Although Greenberg, Grant & Richards, Inc. has the right to file a lawsuit against you, the company cannot claim you can go to jail for refusing to pay off a delinquent credit card or personal loan balance. The bill collector that left the workplace phone message also violated the FDCPA provision that makes it illegal for a debt collection agency to contact a third party regarding your debt.
False Statements Must Have a “Material” Impact
In 2018, the United States Court of Appeal for the Eighth Circuit added a stipulation for proving the making of false statements. Other court decisions have bolstered the new rule that require consumers to show the false statements issued by a bill collector had a “material” impact on how they reached personal financial decisions.
The deceptive threat of sending a consumer to jail might motivate the consumer to take money out of a college fund to pay off the debt. If the debt collection agency never made the false claim, the consumer would have kept the money in the college fund and hence, the bill collector would have not made a false statement that made a “material” impact on the consumer’s financial decision making process.
Seeking Monetary Damages
If a third party debt collector made one or more false statements, the FDCPA allows you to file claim in a civil court seeking monetary damages. You can seek statutory damages, which represent a one-time financial award that cannot exceed $1,000, The FDCPA also grants you the right to seek actual damages for the pain and suffering triggered by physical and/or emotional distress symptoms.
Schedule a free initial consultation with a licensed FDCPA attorney to learn more about the groundbreaking consumer protection law.
*Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Greenberg, Grant and Richards, Inc., or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to compensation.