Filing a Lawsuit Against Debt Collectors for Illegal Debt Collection Practices
If you have been affected by COVID-19 and find yourself falling deeper into debt, you may be fielding numerous calls from debt collectors. These are not always the most scrupulous agents, and they have been known to cross a number of lines when dealing with you. When the crossed lines include breaking the law, you do not have to sit idly by and take it from them. Instead, the law gives you the ability to sue a debt collector for illegal practices. Here is what you need to know about filing a lawsuit against a debt collector.
The Law Protects You from Harassment By Debt Collectors
Lawsuits against debt collectors are somewhat unique. You sue debt collectors in state court based on a federal law that protects you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the law that regulates the debt collection industry. It sets strict limits on what debt collectors can do, including the times that they can call you. The FDCPA generally prohibits abusive debt collection practices and gives you certain right when dealing with collectors. You have the right to tell debt collectors that they can no longer contact you, and they cannot threaten you in any way.
Some states have their own laws on top of the FDCPA that protect you. These jurisdictions either want to give you additional rights or feel that the FDCPA does not go far enough to protect you. These laws give you additional ways that you can sue debt collectors.
If the debt collector violates these laws, they may be subject to a civil lawsuit in court. This is because the FDCPA gives you the right to file your own lawsuit. The good news for you as a consumer is that you do not need to do anything more than just prove that the debt collector broke any one of the number protections contained in the law. The collector has no mitigating defenses that could explain their actions away. If they are found to have broken the law, they are required to pay you with no further questions asked. As an injured debtor, you can collect $1,000 plus attorneys fees for the harm that you suffer. The problem is that this is not a large amount making a lawsuit worth your time. However, you may want to take legal action to defend your rights regardless. Even your family members can take legal action against the debt collector if they were harmed by the calls.
You Can Recover a Variety of Different Damages in a Debt Collector Lawsuit
The $1,000 statutory damages are not the only thing that you can recover if a debt collector has broken the law. You can recover damages beyond that for other harm that the debt collector has caused you. For example, you can recover for emotional distress, lost wages and even physical distress. The debt collector is obligated to pay you just like any other party that has caused you a personal injury. The FDCPA is the guide that would determine whether or not they have broken the law.
Even if you do not end up seeking or obtaining monetary damages for violations of the FDCPA, you can still use the law to get the debt collector to stop bothering you. Sometimes, all it takes is to mention the law to the debt collector to make the illegal practices stop. They are assuming that you have no idea of your legal rights and engage in terrible behavior because they think that you are powerless to stop them. They may not even want to take the risk of ending up in court because they will need to spend money to defend themselves.
If the debt collector does not stop, you can even use the FDCPA to get injunctive relief. This means that, even if the court does not give you money, they could still issue an order that tells the debt collector to essentially leave you alone. The statute is your way to get debt collectors off your back because they are banking on your not knowing the law.
These lawsuits are difficult to bring on your own because the average person does not understand this law or the legal process. However, working with an attorney, you can file a lawsuit against the debt collector to both get damages and some peace from threatening or harassing collection practices.
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