Falling behind on bills represents one of the most stressful events we experience in life. The inability to take care of financial obligations is embarrassing enough, but having to deal with an overly aggressive debt collection agency elevates embarrassment into lingering shame. Demanding letters followed by phone calls made late at night leave you feeling numb. Some of the demanding phone calls included overt threats to take legal action against you.
Before September 20, 1977, consumers had to take the threats issued by third party debt collectors. Coming to the rescue of consumers, the United States Congress wrote into federal law the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The more than 40-year old consumer protection law makes it illegal for bill collectors to abuse consumers verbally. Verbal abuse is a type of intimidation that historically motivated consumers to pay off debt collection agencies. In addition, a third party debt collector such as Shaffer & Associates cannot issue any kind of threat.
About Shaffer & Associates
Atlanta, Georgia based Shaffer & Associates conducts business as a debt collection agency that deals exclusively with consumer debts. The company has received numerous complaints that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has uploaded on its website. One of the most common consumer complaints involves the third party debt collector not honoring the payment plans set up with consumers. The company has also received complaints for misrepresenting what consumers actually owe on credit card and personal loan balances.
What Constitutes a Threat?
Specific legal language written into the FDCPA includes a long list of threats the consumer protection law has banned. For example, a bill collector breaks the law by threatening you with bodily harm. Although the days of strong arm debt collection tactics have waned, it is not out of the question for a desperate bill collector that sees dollar signs to use the threat of bodily harm to motivate a consumer into taking care of an outstanding debt.
The FDCPA prohibits debt collection agencies from threatening to contact a third party. There is no other debt collection tactic that produces more shame than having to deal with a company that called a friend, a family member, or a professional peer. Even a voicemail left at home by a third party debt collectors is considered a violation of the third party provision of the FDCPA.
Seeking Monetary Damages
According to the FDCPA, consumers have two options for seeking monetary damages: Statutory damages and actual damages. Statutory damages represent the financial penalty for violating provisions of the FDCPA. As a one-time award, statutory damages cover all of the violations of the FDCPA committed by a bill collector. With a cap of $1,000 for statutory damages, your FDCPA attorney might decide to file a claim that seeks actual damages for the pain and suffering caused by physical and/or emotional distress symptoms. Your lawyer will have to gather enough evidence to present a convincing case that your physical and/or emotional duress symptoms are directly linked to the illegal behavior of a debt collection agency.
Did Shaffer & Associates threaten you? If so, schedule a free initial consultation today with an accomplished FDCPA attorney.
*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 Shaffer & Associates, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to compensation.