Fair Debt Collections Practices Act – Debt Collector Harassment
Are you receiving calls from a debt collector? Are they calling your relatives or neighbors? Have they threatened jail, fraud charges, an immediate lawsuit? Have they threatened wage garnishment? How about phone calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. These are among some of the illegal threats that debt collectors make to try to get you to pay. Fortunately, there is a law in place that provides great protection to you…the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA for short). This federal law gives you the power to strike back at the illegal tactics of the debt collectors because it gives you what most other laws do not… the right to free legal help. That’s right, the FDCPA says that the debt collector must pay your attorney fees when you file a claim against them for their abusive tactics.
Illegal Tactics That Violate the FDCPA
- Threats of Wage Garnishment
- Threats of Jail or Fraud Charges
- Obscene Language
- Multiple Phone Calls
- Threats of Violence
- Attempting to Collect More Than You Owe
- Calls to Friends, Neighbors, Coworkers, Employers
- Attempts to Intimidate You
- Collection Calls at Work or to Your Employer
- Lying about a lawsuit
- Disclosing private information
- Phone calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Phone calls placed for the purpose of harassment
- Phone calls from an auto – dialer
If you have faced one of the above issues regarding debt collectors, or any other issue that caused concern to you regarding a credit card or student loan debt, please contact our office for a free initial consultation. If you have a claim under the FDCPA, you are entitled to staturory damages (between $1 and $1000) PLUS reasonable attorney fees. If you can prove actual damages as a result of a debt collector’s actions, you can receive those too. The fee shifting provision of the FDCPA is a very powerful weapon that makes debt collectors think twice about fighting too hard on claims that we bring (they also know that we only bring good, solid claims). The more they fight, the higher their legal fee payment will be.
How do FDCPA Claims Work?
The first thing that has to happen is that you have to sign a fee agreement giving us permission to represent you. Even though there is no out of pocket cost to you, and no potential for out of pocket legal fees, you still have to sign a fee agreement outlining what our fees (to the debt collector) are. The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct dictate that all attorney-client relationships must be governed by a written fee agreement and we follow those rules.
Once we receive the signed fee agreement, we draft a formal Complaint against the collector. This is the “lawsuit”. The
Complaint will describe, in detail, what the collector did to you that violated debt collection laws. The lawsuit will be served upon the collector who then must respond. At the time that they are served, its their “wake up” moment. Debt collectors know that we only file good claims so when they receive a Complaint from us, they know that they did something wrong. In many (but not all) cases, the debt collector commences settlement negotiations at this point. We have back and forth negotiation about your compensation, our compensation, and discussion regarding the underlying debt that was the basis for the debt collector contacting you in the first place.
If everyone can agree to adequate compensation and handling of the alleged debt, a Release is drawn up and signed by all parties. While we can never promise any result, we can say that most FDCPA claims move forward in this fashion. In most of these cases our clients never have to see the inside of a courtroom. Please call us today at 412-348-8600 for a free, no obligation consultation if you have been contacted by a debt collector.
No Out of Pocket Cost!
There is no out of pocket cost to pursue a claim against a debt collector. The debt collector pays our fee or no one does.