The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) protects individuals from abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. It prohibits a debt collector from using misleading, deceptive, or false representations in the collection of debts. It further prohibits the use of unfair or unconscionable means to collect debts, including the attempt to collect debts to which the debt collector is not legally entitled to collect.
The FDCPA also requires that a debt collector must provide the following information to the consumer within five days after the initial communication to a consumer unless the information is contained in the initial communication: (1) the amount of the debt; (2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed; (3) a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector; (4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty day period that the debt, or ay portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and (5) a statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
FDCPA violations can include calling you before 8 AM or after 9 PM, calling third parties more than once trying to locate you or telling them that they are attempting to collect a debt, trying to collect a debt that is not valid (e.g., you previously paid the debt or it is barred by the statute of limitations), making threats or implying that you could go to jail for non-payment, and threatening to take actions that they legally cannot take.
An FDCPA claim can be brought individually or as a class action. Damages for individual actions under the FDCPA can include actual damages, statutory damages in an amount not to exceed $1,000.00, attorneys’ fees, and costs. Damages for class actions can include actual damages, statutory damages in an amount not to exceed the lesser of $500,000 or 1% of of the net worth of the debt collector, attorneys’ fees and costs.