Has a debt collector attempted to collect more money than you owe?
A debt collector cannot collect more money than what is owed. For example, a debt collector cannot demand that you pay $2,000 in order to settle a debt that was originally only $500. This is considered to be an unfair practice that is prohibited by the FDCPA and RFDCPA. Occasionally, a debt collector is permitted to collect interest on a debt, but only when that interest was expressly authorized by the original agreement creating the debt, or permitted by law. Attempting to charge an amount greater violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("RFDCPA"). Click here to read this portion of the FDCPA.
Debt collectors violate this portion of the FDCPA in many different ways. One of the most common examples of this is when a debt collector attempts to collect a debt that has already been paid. Many times debts have been sold so frequently that it is very unlikely that the amount owed has been tracked properly. A debt may have been paid to one debt collector years ago and then several years later the debt magically reappears with a new debt collector. The new debt collector begins repeatedly calling and harassing the consumer about paying the debt with no record that it had already been paid. Despite the consumer's repeated explanations that the debt has been paid, the debt collector keeps calling and demanding payment. This is one of the most frustrating violations of the FDCPA and/or RFDCPA that consumers encounter. Many times consumers are forced to go back through years of bank account records to find proof of their payment. Additionally, even with proof of payment, the debt collectors oftentimes do not stop attempting to collect the debt.
Another example, is when the debt collector charges a little more than what the consumer actually owes. Maybe the debt collector added an improper collection fee, or too much interest to the account. The improper add-ons can be very confusing to the consumer. Oftentimes, these debts are extremely old and its very difficult for the consumer to determine what the exact amount owed is. Frequently, it is incorrectly assumed that the increased amount is from interest that has accumulated over years. While interest has increased the balance owed, it is also common for debt collectors to add improper fees to the interest and not inform the consumer.
My client had a very old professional services bill sent to a collection agency and reported on his credit report. My client believed that he had paid the bill years ago. When he saw the amount on his credit report he called the debt collector to find out what exactly was owed and when he incurred this debt. The debt collector had very little information for him and just repeated what was on his credit report. My client then called the professional service business that supposedly charged the bill to find out the specifics of the alleged debt. The professional services company explained to my client that the alleged debt was actually paid three (3) years ago and that he didn't owe anything. We were able to remove the negative information from his credit report under the FDCPA and the California Fair Credit Reporting Act. My client also received a settlement and the debt collector paid all of our attorneys' fees and costs.
If a debt collector or creditor is attempting to charge you more than you actually owe, feel free to give us a call for a free case evaluation under the FDCPA and RFDCPA. 1-800-219-3577.