With the advancement in business and economics, there may come points where you may be on the losing end of a debt. Accruing debt can be difficult, and paying it off can cause anxiety and stress throughout your daily life. This can be especially hard if the one you owe money to sends a debt collector to reinforce the debt pay dates.
To help lessen this blow, and to ensure fair play between both the debtee, the debt collector, and the creditor, the FDCPA is in place. This law ensures that all parties are treated in fairness, and without overstepping their boundaries.
But, what happens when they do cross that line? We will look at what to do when a creditor violates the FDCPA, and what you can do about it.
What is the FDCPA?
The FDCPA, or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, is a federal law that limits and bottlenecks the possible actions and motions that a third-party debt collector can make when attempting to collect on the debt of another person or party involved. These debt collectors who collect for a party must follow specific rules, guidelines, and laws before they are able to fully collect on the debt.
The FDCPA has been amended quite a few times, and is mainly provided to ensure that the debtee is not harassed or blackmailed into paying the debt. These rules cover such things as specific times when a debtee may be called, to where they may be called.
What is not covered by the FDCPA?
Although the FDCPA does cover most debts, they will not be able to help when it comes to personal debts. A personal debt is when a person, such as a small business owner, attempts to collect from a person of interest. In this case, the FDCPA would not cover that personal debt that is owed. This is because he is not considered a debt collector at this point in time.
As defined for the FDCPA, it is only third-party debt collectors that are restrained by the FDCPA laws. These are primarily people that work for debt collection agencies that deal specifically with helping businesses collect on a debt.
Who can be Sued for Violating the FDCPA?
In instances where the FDCPA has been violated, then there is a possibility of a lawsuit being enacted against the breacher of the law. There are two main parties that can be liable in these instances: the creditor, and the debt collector. Debt collectors that break the FDCPA laws must be found guilty of breaking the law, such as contacting you past a specific time, or threatening bodily or physical harm. Both would be valid reasons to sue a debt collector if recorded and properly presented in a court of law.
Another party that can be sued is the creditor themselves. In such cases of medical issues, these would be either a medical facility and family, or a small office's staff members. These are a bit harder to track, and must be taken with caution, as a direct lawsuit against the creditor may lead to you being slammed with the bill instead.
Some instances where a creditor might be sued is if they attempt to make the debt collector harass or push for unscrupulous means to gather the debt. They may also be found in violating the law if they are found in collusion of threatening bodily harm to the debtee.
Suing the Creditor
Most lawsuits involving a breach of the FDCPA by the creditor will fall to the small court claims. In these courts, you may not have to go through the full legal process for a state court lawsuit. Instead, you will be allowed to defend your case without an attorney, without excessive use of resources.
If a creditor has been found to have violated the FDCPA laws, a judge may issue a ruling on the spot, or take the case under submission to rule on at a later date.
How to use a Violation against a Creditor
If you find that your creditor has been in violation of the FDCPA, it may also be used as leverage against the creditor during the debt settlement negotiations. If the negotiations have not started already, then the understanding that a violation has occurred may mean that the creditor does not want the case to go before a court.
If this occurs, it is important to have some form of verification of the facts. Things such as written letters, recordings of phone calls, and testimonies of friends or acquaintances who may have also received harassment may be used as leverage in the negotiations.
This can mainly be seen as an alternative to going to a small claims court. If the creditor is a larger company group, it may be seen as a better tactic to settle out of court, which may also help in your negotiations.