The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Explained by Consumer Protection Lawyers in Chicago
In 1977, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created in order to protect consumers from harassment at the hands of debt collectors. Lenders collecting their own debts in their own name are not considered debt collectors under the FDCPA. If an entity is considered a debt collector under the Act, then it must follow the rules set forth in the FDCPA.
At Atlas Consumer Law, we have filed lawsuits on behalf of clients whose consumer rights have been violated during the bankruptcy process or after debt discharge. The law contains language that prohibits “abusive and deceptive” behavior and tactics by creditors against debtors. If you are being harassed by creditors, you need to speak with a Chicago consumer law lawyer as soon as possible.
- Examples of FDCPA violations include the following:
- Creditor calls that occur before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. and while an individual is at work
- Reporting false and negative information on a consumer’s credit report
- Repeated and continuous phone calls to annoy (dozens of daily phone calls)
- Contacting a debtor that has known legal representation
- Use of profane language
- Use of threatening language
Know Your Rights Under FDCPA
When it comes to debt collectors in Chicago and around the nation, the law does allow for certain consumer rights.
- Did you know…In Illinois, debt collectors may not be able to sue you after 5 to 10 years? Like any lawsuit, debt collection lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations. This means, after a certain amount of time, the collector isn’t permitted to seek payment from you through a lawsuit. Additionally, creditors are not allowed to threaten you with any legal action unless they intend on following through. According to Illinois laws, open and unwritten agreements are subject to a 5-year statute of limitations, while written contracts give creditors a 10-year window.
- Did you know…You can’t in “inherit” debt when a loved one passes away? You only have to pay back loans you take out. In other words, you can’t inherit your parent’s credit card debt or other financial obligations when they die unless you co-signed the loan. Although the laws are generally clear regarding debt inheritance, debt collectors may still try to make you think you owe money when you don’t. In reality, it is unlawful for a debt collector to even contact you regarding payment for debts that aren’t yours.
- Did you know…Most debt collectors are willing to negotiate with you? If you’re behind on your payments, avoiding creditors may not be the best idea. That’s because most creditors are willing to negotiate with you – especially if you’re working with a consumer lawyer. Depending on the creditor, you might be able to lower the amount you owe, extend the amount of time you have to pay the loan, etc. Often times, debt collectors will negotiate with you if they think it will help you avoid bankruptcy. Every person’s financial situation is unique though, so speak with a legal representative to determine the best course of action for you.
- Did you know…Consumers may also take steps if they believe that the debt is not valid. Attorneys are able to assist debtors with letter requesting proof of the debt owed, or they may work with the consumer to establish that a debt is fraudulent or has already been paid. Consumers may also take legal action against a collection agency if they believe that the agency made false claims, engaged in harassment or other unfair practices.
- Did you know…The law allows individuals to stop the phone calls completely by sending a written statement to the collection agency informing them that all future contact must be done in writing.The request must be written, and consumers are encouraged to keep a copy of the letter for their own records. Sending the request will not eliminate the debt, but it will prevent the collection agencies from initiating further contact with the individual. The two exceptions to this request include notifications that specific action will be taken, such as filing a lawsuit, or to inform the creditor that there will be no further contact from them.
We are extremely knowledgeable regarding FDCPA matters, including landmark court cases, such as Brim v. Midland Credit Management, Inc. et al, Johnson vs. MBNA Am. Bank, and Brooks v. Midland Credit Management, Inc., et al, to name a few. We can carefully review the details of your case and file a lawsuit on your behalf if we identify a FDCPA violation.
What kind of damages are you entitled to as a consumer?
Violations of the Act carry a statutory penalty of $1,000.00, and could also entitle the consumer to recover actual damages, attorney's fees, and possibly punitive damages. Why are your attorney fees paid by creditors? Your attorney fees will be paid by debtors because without this provision, many debtors would choose not to take legal action against at-fault creditors. The law is on the side of consumers. By filing a lawsuit, we may be able to obtain compensation — or damages — for you.
After being subjected to unlawful harassment, you deserve to be fairly compensated. We will utilize our aggressive litigation skills in order to pursue justice.
- Some monetary damages that are available due to FDCPA violations include:
- Physical distress
- Lost income due to harassing calls at work
- Recovery of wage garnishment
- Emotional distress
- Attorney fees
The biggest problem that most consumers encounter is that they have not properly documented the improper contacts from the debt collector. Properly documenting phone calls means keeping track of the day and time of the call. If possible, then it is also a good idea to record phone calls from debt collectors. However, recording phone calls can expose you to legal liability; it is always wise to obtain the debt collector's permission to record the call. If debt collectors are sending you mail, then it is important to save both the letter and the postmarked envelope.
Speak with our Chicago consumer lawyers today!
If you are suffering from creditor harassment or other unlawful practices, we wish to help you through our Protect The Discharge program. No FDCPA case is too complex for our legal team to handle. You can turn to us with absolute confidence in knowing that you are being represented by a law firm with an A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau!
For the aggressive and knowledgeable legal representation you need for your FDCPA matter, call us as soon as possible.