After spending a fun-packed day with your family, you come home to find a disturbing message left on the landline answering machine. It seems a representative from the IRS has left a message concerning an outstanding credit card account.
The caller demands an immediate resolution on the account, which means you have to pay more than $1,000 just to start the payment process. Worried, you erase the message to prevent anyone else from hearing it. What happens next depends on whether you understand the implications of a landmark federal consumer protection law.
Written into the federal legal code on September 20, 1977, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits dozens of previously valid debt collection practices. A debt collection agency such as Prince Parker & Associates cannot harass you by calling you at home and at work frequently throughout the same day.
The FDCPA also bans third party debt collectors from deceiving customers into taking care of outstanding credit card and personal loan accounts. This includes making false statements regarding your debt.
Examples of False Statements
When a bill collector calls you at home or at work, the FDCPA clearly makes it illegal for the company to impersonate another company or organization. By claiming to be the IRS, the debt collection agency violated one of the many provisions written into the FDCPA.
A company responsible for collecting a delinquent debt for an original creditor cannot demand more money than you actually owe on a credit card or a personal loan balance. Some third party debt collectors bank on consumers not knowing how much they actually owe on a personal debt.
Several court decisions make it illegal for bill collectors to leave phone messages, which is a violation of the FDCPA provision that forbids companies from contacting a third party regarding a consumer debt.
False Statements Have to Be Material
Although the FDCPA makes it cut and dry that making false statements regarding your debt is considered against federal consumer protection law, a few court decisions issued since 1977 have changed how judges define the false statement provision of the monumental consumer protection statute.
A bill collector that makes a false statement violates the FDCPA, if the false statement made a “material” impact on how you reached one or more personal financial decisions. When a company impersonates the IRS, a consumer might react negatively by quickly closing bank accounts because of fear that the IRS would garnish all the money in the accounts.
Are You Eligible for Damages?
In addition to banning dozens of deceptive and overly aggressive debt collection tactics, the FDCPA also allows consumers to file claims that seek monetary damages for one of violations of the federal consumer protection law. One common type of monetary damage sought by consumers is lost wages.
The false statements made by a debt collection agency like Prince Parker & Associates might diminish the quality of the work produced by a consumer. Then, the consumer’s employer cuts back on hours to reflect the diminished performance.
Contact an FDCPA Attorney
By working with a state licensed consumer protection lawyer, you bolster your claim that a third party debt collector made one or more false statements regarding your debt. Your attorney will gather evidence to increase the likelihood of you winning a claim. Schedule a free initial consultation today with an experienced consumer protection lawyer who has compiled a successful record of litigating 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 Prince Parker & Associates, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to compensation.