You open a letter from a debt collection agency like Hillcrest, Davidson & Associates, Inc. At the top of the letter in bold, black ink are the words “PAST DUE.” Before you read the letter, you immediately know the letter is about an outstanding personal debt. After reading the letter, you are stunned to learn that you can go to jail for not taking care of personal debts.
At least that is what the third party debt collector claimed in the letter.
In fact, asserting you can go to jail for an unpaid debt is just one of many false statements that are outlawed by a groundbreaking federal consumer protection law. Passed by the United States Congress on September 20, 1977, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) makes it illegal for a bill collector to deceive you in any way. The anti-deception provision of the FDCPA includes language that clearly prohibits companies from making false statements, such as the false statement that you can do time in jail for failing to pay off a delinquent consumer debt.
Other Types of Banned False Statements
In addition to not being able to threaten you with jail time, a bill collector such as Hillcrest, Davidson & Associates, LLC cannot threaten to take you to court or threaten to take part of your salary. The FDCPA forbids the once legally acceptable debt collection tactic of impersonating another organization. Some companies coerce consumers into taking care of debts by claiming to be the IRS or a law enforcement agency. You should know the IRS has no interest in your personal finances, other than the fact that you are obligated to pay federal income taxes. In the United States, there is not such a thing as debtor prisons, which makes the law enforcement agency impersonation a false statement.
How to Handle the False Statements Made by a Debt Collection Agency
In 2018, the Eighth Circuit court issued a ruling that dramatically changed the way federal consumer protection law views false statements. Not only do you have to present evidence that proves a bill collector made false statements, you also have to show the company made false statements that negatively impacted your financial decision making ability. Let’s say a debt collection agency claimed you owed more money than you actually owe on a debt. If you sent the company money to pay what the company claimed you owe, then you made a decision that negatively impacted your personal finances.
Do You Qualify for Monetary Damages?
The United States Congress ensured consumers are fully protected against deceptive debt collection tactics by creating a provision that allows for the filing of claims. If Hillcrest, Davidson & Associates, LLC makes one or more false statements and you can demonstrate the false statements were “material” in negatively impacting your ability to make sound financial decisions, then you might qualify to receive monetary damages. There are two types of monetary damages under the FDCPA: Statutory and actual. Statutory damages cover every FDCPA violation committed by the same company, while actual damages cover the costs associated with physical and/or emotional distress symptoms.
Schedule a free initial consultation today with a licensed FDCPA lawyer.
- Is a Debt Collector Trying to Collect More Than You Owe?
- Evidence Needed for a Successful FDCPA Claim
*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 Hillcrest, Davidson & Associates, LLC, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to compensation.