It has been a few weeks since we discussed options people in California who are being harassed by debt collectors have under the law. In that post, we mentioned the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, an important piece of federal legislation that seeks to protect people in debt from abusive debt collection practices.
As we mentioned then, the FDCPA limits phone calls from debt collectors to between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Unscrupulous debt collection agencies sometimes call debtors at all hours of the day and night, trying to disrupt their lives and harass them into paying their alleged debt.
The FDCPA prohibits several other excessive debt collection techniques. Basically, anything that would seem unreasonable or wrong by the average person is something that debt collectors are not allowed to do. This includes accusing the debtor of committing a crime, threatening to garnish the debtor’s wages and using foul language on the phone or in writing.
To enforce these rules, the FDCPA empowers victims of debt collector harassment to seek damages from the companies responsible. Statutory damages of $1,000, plus actual damages, are possible. A class action suit against a debt collector who has committed numerous violations against several debtors could result in a verdict of up to $500,000 or 1 percent of the net work of the debt collector.
To assert your rights under the FDCPA, you should speak to an attorney with experience handling debt collection cases. A lawyer can review your case and advise you on what course of action to take, based on your goals. For instance, in many cases litigation is not necessary to get a debt collector to stop harassing you.