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Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Violations: Do You Have A Case?
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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers against the illegal practices of creditors. Various states have enacted their own versions of the Act that may provide consumers with even greater protection. But, how do you know if you have a lawsuit?

Four requirements

Steve Recordon, an attorney from San Diego, California whose firm represents individuals who have been sued or harassed by debt buyers, told us that there are really four requirements to a debt collection case:

1. You have to be a consumer.
2. The debt must be a consumer debt. In other words, the debt has to be personal, family or household. A business debt doesn't qualify.
3. It must be a debt collector who's coming after you.
4. It must be a violation of a law such as the FDCPA, California’s Rosenthal statute (California’s version of the FDCPA) or other state statutes.

According to Recordon, if those four requirements are met, they’ve probably violated the statute(s). He added that debt collectors are required to be truthful and treat debtors with fairness, dignity and respect.

What can you allege?

There are several causes of action that can be alleged against debt collectors who violate the FDCPA and state statutes. Recordon explained:

The FDCPA is a strict liability statute. What that means is if they violate it, they're liable. Under the FDCPA, there is a $1,000 penalty they have to pay to the debtor, along with attorneys’ fees – which I’ve seen go as high as $100,000.

Under other state statutes, you have what we call torts. Torts are civil causes of action such as the intentional infliction of emotional distress. There's a lot of emotion going on in these collection cases and I see this in a pretty high percentage of them, particularly in the telephone harassment cases.

You may also have negligent infliction of emotional distress. If it's not quite as bad, it may fall into the negligence side of it. There are also abuse of process and malicious prosecution cases where they sue on cases they know they can't prove. Finally, you can also have invasion of privacy and libel situations as well.

If you’ve been sued or harassed by a debt buyer / collection agency, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and strictly confidential. To contact an experienced attorney, please click here. We may be able to help.
roninmd
 May 19th, 2010

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