One of the unfortunate realities for those facing serious financial problems is that the longer that bills go unpaid, the greater the chances that they will receive some sort of unwanted communication from a debt collector via the mail, the computer or the phone.
Indeed, these communications from debt collectors can prove to be unrelenting and sometimes so overtly frightening that they make an already stressful situation that much worse.
As discouraging as all this can prove to be, it’s very important for those who find themselves in this situation to understand that they are not without rights and they are not without options.
That’s because the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act expressly prohibits debt collectors — collection agencies, companies that buy debt for pennies on the dollar and attempt to collect, etc. — from engaging in practices that could be classified as abusive, unfair or otherwise deceptive.
Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the FDCPA provides people with a much-needed measure of protection against this type of creditor harassment, and even enables those who have been victimized by forbidden practices to pursue a lawsuit against debt collectors in state or federal court.
Indeed, if it can be proven in court that the debt collector engaged in illegal collection practices, a person may recover not just attorney fees and court costs, but also money for any actual damages sustained as a result of the conduct, such as lost wages or medical bills.
Furthermore, the FDCPA also permits a group of people who have all been victimized by the same debt collector to file a class action lawsuit. If successful, they can recover the lower of either one percent of the debt collector’s net worth or $500,000.
We will continue to examine this topic in future posts, examining what exactly constitutes abusive, unfair or otherwise deceptive practices under the FDCPA.
In the meantime, it’s important to understand that filing for personal bankruptcy can help put a stop to creditor harassment. To learn more, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.