Common Violations

Debt collectors commonly violate the law by attempting to collect “debts”

  • From the wrong person
  • For the wrong amount
  • At the wrong time (e.g. after a statute of limitations has passed or after the debt was released in bankruptcy)
  • In a wrongful manner

Under the FDCPA, a debt collector who acts unlawfully is liable for up to $1,000.00 in statutory damages, actual damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs regardless of whether or not they are attempting to collect a legitimate debt.

The following are specific examples of only some of the many unlawful tactics frequently used by debt collectors, including collection attorneys:

  • Telling others (neighbors, employers…) about your debts
  • Leaving phone messages about your debts, which can be heard by people other than you or your spouse
  • Communicating with you by postcard
  • Contacting you without disclosing their identity as a debt collector
  • Lying about their identity
  • Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., or at any other inconvenient time or place
  • Calling your cell phone, unless you have authorized them to do so
  • Calling you at work if they know that doing so is inconvenient for you or prohibited by your employer
  • Contacting you at all, if they know you have an attorney
  • Contacting you after you have told them to stop
  • Threatening you with harm or criminal means
  • Using obscene or profane language when speaking with you
  • Making repeated and continuous phone calls
  • Representing to you that they are an attorney, if they are not an attorney
  • Representing to you that they are affiliated with the government, including the use of a badge, uniform, or letterhead giving that impression
  • Sending documents to you that look like they were approved by the government or a court (when they were not)
  • Misrepresenting the amount, character, or legal status of a debt
  • Threatening your arrested if you do not pay your debts
  • Threatening any action they do not intend to take, including a lawsuit or wage garnishment
  • Falsely representing or implying that your failure to pay your debts is crime
  • Reporting false or inaccurate information about your debts to a credit bureau, including a failure to indicate that a debt is disputed
  • Using any deceptive means to collect a debt
  • Falsely representing or implying that a communication is legal process
  • Sending a collection letter or leaving a voice mail that fails to contain the mini-Miranda warning: “THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A DEBT,” and other required disclosures
  • Misrepresenting themselves as being employed by a credit reporting agency
  • Attempting to collect an amount (e.g. interest, attorney fees…) not authorized by contract or permitted by law
  • Depositing or threatening to deposit your post-dated check prior to its date
  • Accepting or soliciting your check postdated by more than 5 days without subsequently giving written notice of their intent to deposit such check 3 business days in advance
  • Causing any charges to be made to you, e.g., collect telephone calls, calls to a cell phone….
  • Taking or threatening to unlawfully repossess your property
  • Displaying any language or symbol on the envelope indicating the communication concerns debt collection
  • Failing to properly notify you of your rights to verify a debt: Within 5 days of an initial communication, a debt collector must provide you with a 30-day validation notice containing:
    • The amount of the debt
    • The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed
    • A statement that, unless you dispute the validity of the debt or any portion of it within 30 days after receipt of the notice, the debt can be assumed to be valid by the debt collector
    • A statement that, if you notify the debt collector in writing within the 30-day period that the debt or any portion thereof is disputed, the debt collector will act to verify the debt
    • A statement that, if you request, the collector will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor (if different from the current creditor)
  • Continuing attempts to collect on a debt without first verifying it, if you have asked for such verification in accordance with the 30-day validation notice.

If you feel that your rights have been violated in one of these ways, or in any other way, please contact us for a free consultation.