The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has been implemented and used for many years. As debts and credit are used as collateral in everyday life, there are bound to be moments where attempting to pay for the debt can be challenging for those working day to day.
It also doesn't help when debt collectors sent from the creditor start to hound you at every turn you make. Whether it's day or night, it seems like they will always be there reminding you about the debt you owe.
However, the FDCPA protects you against some of their practices. If you find that the debt collectors and creditors have overstepped their boundaries by harassing you, either through physical harm or excessive communications, you may be entitled to a fair settlement. Here is how to deal with FDCPA violations made by creditors and debt collectors.
Starting out - Who is involved
The first step to suing a debt collector or creditor that has violated FDCPA guidelines is to establish who violated the standards. This may seem a bit backwards, but depending on which party violated the laws may influence what steps are taken.
The simplest way to determine this is to get in contact with the parties involved. Contacting the debt collection agency may lead to strong conversations in regards to who decided to overstep their boundaries and call you past reasonable hours of business. If the debt collector was the one to make that decision, the state may argue that the entirety of the agency is at fault.
If the creditor is the one found to be in violation, the steps may be a bit different. Instead of getting the courts involved, it may be best to keep it out of the courts, and work to manage an out-of-court debt negotiation with leverage based on the FDCPA violation. However, if those do not work, suing the creditor may be your only option.
Establishing Reason and Cause
Once the party involved has been identified, the next step is to properly record and maintain the facts. In the instance of an FDCPA violation, the statements proving that the debt collector or creditor violated those standards may be in the form of phone call records, physical letters or emails sent by the parties, or statements and witness testimonies made about the harassment done to you by those parties.
If they are viable, it is imperative that you properly record and maintain the information in a safe place. Keeping the facts written down recorded means that they cannot be altered, and that they are hard evidence even in the future. This also ensures that, if the violators of the FDCPA attempt to go back and backtrack on their words, or attempt to twist and skew their own mistakes, you will have the evidence to prove them wrong and keep the negotiations, or court case, in full motion.
Choose your Avenue of Focus
If there has been reasonable cause that there has been a violation of the FDCPA, there are a few ways you can go about making your lawsuit. The starting point is who you would prefer to talk to about bringing this injustice to light, and how you want it handled.
The first option is to speak with a government agency about the FDCPA violation. One, if not the only, agency that takes care of these violations is the Federal Trade Commision, or the FTC. You may also contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the CPB. Both agencies may take a bit longer in terms of getting the case handled and properly taken care of, but they hold a lot of weight. When dealing with companies such as a medical conglomerate, big names are sometimes what you do need to push your case forward.
Another option is to report the violation of FDCPA to the state attorney general. If the FDCPA is being violated, they may also be in violation of a few state laws that should be brought up. Contacting the state attorney general may give you an opportunity to find more information and leverage against the violator of the FDCPA. Not only that, if the state attorney general finds that the debt collectors have been in violation on more than one occasion, they may even sue on behalf of the state, alleviating some of your issues and worries.
Lastly, although this does not constitute a lawsuit, you may use the violation as leverage during debt negotiations. If you know that the debt collector and/or creditor are in violation of the laws, bringing that to the negotiations may gain you leverage in how much you can ask for and how much you can have waived. This is due to the creditor and/or debt collector not wanting to have to tangle with the higher courts. If it is seen as too much of a hassle, they may cave and follow your stipulations to not have the violations openly brought before the courts.
Find an experienced legal advisor
The last step in a lawsuit against the FDCPA is to find a strong legal advisor or attorney to help with the legal process. An attorney will not only be able to manage and categorize your information and evidence, they will also ensure that any shady tactics or loopholes are not exploited when in communications with the other parties involved. They will help to ensure that you get the proper amount you need and deserve for the violations and problems the debt collectors and creditors have caused to you.