If you have fallen behind on your bills, you know the frustration of trying to play financial catch up can control your life. From taking on a second job to cutting back on expenses, you are doing everything you can to turn around your financial mess. Just when you think the financial hole is disappearing, you receive a letter from a debt collection agency claiming you have to pay off an outstanding debt or else you can expect the company to start garnishing your wages.
Frustration has morphed into acute stress, as you try to figure out a way to push back against the third party debt collector. Fortunately, a landmark federal consumer protection law passed by the United States Congress forbids bill collectors such as McCarthy Burgess & Wolff from making false statements. In the example that involved garnishing your wages, a debt collection agency is not allowed to threaten you with wage garnishment, which makes the statement false under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Examples of False Statements Made by Third Party Debt Collectors
According to the FDCPA, a bill collector cannot claim to have the power to garnish your wages. The company must first receive an order of wage garnishment from the appropriate court. After receiving the order, the debt collection agency can start taking a set amount out of your paycheck each week. However, the company can never falsely claim it will garnish your earnings. The FDCPA also prohibits a third party debt collector from asking you to pay off a debt you have already paid off. Some bill collectors like to demand more money from consumers than is actually owed on a delinquent credit card or personal loan account. This is considered a false statement under the FDCPA.
What to do If a Debt Collection Agency Makes a False Statement
In 2018, the Eighth Circuit Court altered the interpretation of the false statement provision of the FDCPA. Many courts since the 2018 ruling have adopted the same judicial philosophy, which is consumers must do more than prove a bill collector made one or more false statements. Now, you must also show the false statements were “material” to your financial situation. In other words, you have to demonstrate the false statements negatively impacted your ability to control your personal finances.
Are You Entitled to Monetary Damages?
The FDCPA includes a punitive provision that grants consumers the right to file a claim that seeks monetary damages. If you can prove McCarthy Burgess & Wolff violated one or more provisions of the FDCPA, then you have the right to seek statutory damages. If you can show the false statements are material to your case, you have the right to ask for actual damages that include compensation for the pain and suffering caused by physical and/or emotional distress.
How an FDCPA Lawyer Can Help
Going up against the legal team representing a debt collection agency can be a daunting task. To level the legal playing field, you should schedule a free initial interview with a licensed consumer protection attorney who has successfully litigated numerous FDCPA cases.
*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 McCarthy Burgess & Wolff, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to compensation.