The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is pro-consumer legislation that was originally enacted in 1978 for the purpose of protecting consumers from the aggressive and sometimes abusive collection tactics often used by third party collection agencies. Among the its lengthy list of prohibited acts and conduct, the FDCPA makes it illegal for debt collectors including collection agencies, lawyers, forms writers and other third party collectors to do the following:
- State information that is false, deceptive, or misleading
- Threaten to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken
- State that a legal process such as a lawsuit has begun when in fact it has not
- Represent that collection documents have been authorized or approved by a court, official, or an agency of the government
- Threaten to unlawfully repossess property
- Claim that the consumer has committed a crime
- Incessantly call on the phone or engage in repeated telephone conversations
- Call the consumer at their place of employment when the collector knows that the employer prohibits such communications
- Discuss the debt with a third person, such as an employer or family member
- Call the consumer if they know they are represented by an attorney
There are several requirements that must be met before a consumer’s claim for an FDCPA violation arises, including that the underlying debt must have been incurred for personal, family or household purposes as opposed to for business reasons. Damages for successful FDCPA violations include up to $1,000 plus the cost of attorney fees for bringing the action. Additional damages may be available if the consumer can prove emotional distress or that they suffered an out of pocket expense due to the violation.
If you believe that you may have a claim under the FDCPA, you should tell your bankruptcy attorney about the claim as this could be a potential asset in your bankruptcy case.
Wartchow Law Office provides free bankruptcy consultations to discuss options in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Minnesota as well as non-bankruptcy debt relief alternatives. Located in Edina, Minnesota, Wartchow Law Office represents clients throughout the Twin Cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding areas.