You first thought it was a bad dream. The ringtone on your cell phone has gone off, and as you reach for it, you notice the clock reads 2:45 in the early morning. Frantic because you think the call is an emergency, you hastily grab the phone and hit the on button.
After clearing your eyes and head, you are shocked to learn the phone call is not about an emergency, but instead, the phone call is from a debt collection agency that wants instant payment on an outstanding consumer debt.
Can a third party debt collector harass you by placing phone calls deep into the night. According to an historical federal consumer protection law, the answer is an emphatic no. Enacted by the United States Congress on September 20, 1977, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits bill collectors from calling consumer between the hours of 9pm and 8am.
Often referred to as the ultimate consumer Bill of Rights, the FDCPA also makes it illegal for a debt collection agency to make false statements regarding your debt.
Types of False Statements Defined by the FDCPA
In addition to receiving a phone in the early morning, you also had to deal with a false statement made by a third party debt collector. The representative from the company falsely claimed she contacted a family member to discuss your debt.
Not only did the representative not contact a third party regarding your debt, even if she did place the call, the call violates the third party provision of the FDCPA as well.
A company like United Mediation Services, LLC cannot impersonate a law enforcement agency in an attempt to intimidate a consumer into paying off an outstanding credit card or personal loan account.
Some consumers might fall for the deceptive debt collection tactics, but you should know that not paying off a consumer debt does not violate any state, federal, or municipal statute. In addition, a bill collector cannot lie about the amount of money owed on a personal debt.
False Statements Must Be Material
Clearly written into the FDCPA, the false statement provision has changed in meaning since the landmark federal consumer protection law passed both houses in 1977. Now, consumers must prove a false statement made by a debt collection agency had a “material” effect on how they reached financial decisions.
If a third party debt collector made a false statement, you have to show the false statement negatively impacted your personal finances. For example, you have to demonstrate that the false claim issue by a company such as United Mediation Services, LLC that involved allegedly contacting a third party regarding your debt prompted you to change how you manage your bank accounts.
Seeking Monetary Damages
How does the FDCPA punish bill collectors that make material false statements? You can file a claim in a civil court that seeks monetary damages. Statutory damages, which cannot exceed $1,000, cover every violation of the FDCPA committed by the same bill collector. You can also seek actual damages, which the FDCPA does not cap.
Schedule a free initial consultation with an accomplished FDCPA attorney to learn more about the federal 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 United Mediation Services, LLC, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to compensation.