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What to Do if You Need to Sue a Debt Collector

Todays Date: November 15, 2018

If you’re in debt up to your ears, you might be worried that a debt collector might sue you for not paying on your debt. But did you know that there are many reasons for which you can actually sue them instead?

Keeping in mind that I’m not a lawyer, and am not giving any legal advice whatsoever, here are the facts:

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, also known as the FDCPA, defines specific practices in which debt collectors may not engage. According to the FDCPA, you have the right to sue a collector in a State or Federal court if they engage in any of these forbidden practices.

So, what are these forbidden practices?

The first, and most common, is harassment. Under the FDCPA, harassment means use of “threats of violence or harm”, using obscene language, or annoying someone through repeated use of the telephone.

The second forbidden practice is using false statements to collect on a debt. The FDCPA prevents debt collectors from telling lies in order to collect on a debt. This includes falsely presenting themselves as government agents or attorneys, lying about how much is owed, or claiming that your inability to repay your debt makes you a criminal. Debt collections agents have a long history of being dishonest if it makes them easier to collect on a debt.

Debt collectors are also not allowed to publicize the fact that you owe money on a debt. This means they cannot contact other people about your debt, contact you via postcard (since the contents of a postcard can be seen by anyone), or publish your name on a list of people who have outstanding debts. The only time they can contact other people about a debt you owe is to discover your address, telephone number, or place of employment.

So, what are the consequences if a debt collector does break the rules and engage in one of these forbidden practices?

Your first action should be to inform them that you are aware of your rights under the FDCPA, and that they must cease their illegal actions. Most of the time, this will resolve the problem without you having to resort to legal action.

If that doesn’t do the trick, however, you still have up to a year from the time they violated the FDCPA to sue the debt collector in state or Federal court. You are allowed to sue them for any demonstrable damages that you suffered because of their illegal practices, such as lost wages or medical bills.

Even if it’s not possible for you to prove that they caused actual damages, the judge can still force them to pay you as much as $1,000. The judge can also make them pay you for any attorney’s fees that you incurred.

Keep in mind that just because the debt collector violated the law in trying to collect your debt, the debt does not just disappear if you actually owe it. Their violation of the law only entitles you to sue them under the FDCPA.

Make sure to know the law, and be aware of your rights. If anyone violates your legal rights, make sure you enforce your rights.

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