You ignore the letter from a debt collector. After all, you paid the debt off weeks ago. You even called the debt collector’s office and receive confirmation of the paid debt. However, the same debt collector resorts to harassing you by leaving several voice messages on your cell phone answering service. Now, you need to take advantage of the legal protections granted by a monumental consumer protection law.
How the FDCPA Protects Consumers
Before September 20, 1977, dealing with a debt collector was about as troubling as having to deal with a loan shark. Threats, abusive language, and constant harassment allowed many third party debt collectors to break the wills of consumers who owed money for delinquent loans and credit card balances. The United States Congress remedied the unbalanced legal fulcrum by passing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). With the legal protections mandated by the FDCPA, consumers have the right to seek the advice of an experienced consumer protection law attorney to end the illegal behavior conducted by debt collectors.
How Does the FDCPA Address Debt Collections for Debts Already Paid?
When the United States Congress enacted the FDCPA, the primary intent of the consumer protection law was to prevent third party debt collectors from using aggressive behavior to get consumers to pay off delinquent debts. As a more obscure provision within the FDCPA, debt collectors are also prohibited from using deceptive techniques to collect money from borrowers.
Here are some examples of FDCPA forbidden deceptive debt collection techniques:
- Promise of reducing amount owed if debt paid in full today
- Claiming court action is imminent (also considered threatening language)
- Making a false representation
- Trying to collect debts consumers have already paid
The last violation is especially troublesome because in most cases, third party debt collectors are well aware consumers have paid off delinquent debts. Debt collectors double dipping on a debt typically are motivated by greed. Nonetheless, some debt collectors simply make honest5 mistakes by contacting consumers concerning already paid off debts.
When You Should Hire an Attorney?
When a debt collector contacts you about a resolved debt, calmly explain you have already taken care of the debt. You can send confirmation of payment by mail in the form of a cancelled check or call the debt collector and give the financial information over the phone. If the debt collector insists you never paid off the debt, you should contact an attorney who specializes in litigating consumer protection law cases.
An attorney will review all the paperwork you have saved to determine if you have a strong case. If your attorney decides to litigate the case, you are eligible under the FDCPA to receive statutory damages that cannot exceed $1,000. However, you can also sue a third party debt collector for the actual damages you suffered because of physical and/or emotional distress.