The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is a federal law that sets the rules for debt collectors can do and say while trying to collect on a debt. While the FDCPA is a federal law, it protects people from the abusive tactics of debt collectors.

There are dozens of specific rules under the FDCPA but what it really boils down to is this – did the debt collector say or do anything that was (1) untrue, (2) unfair, (3) undignified, or (4) disrespectful?  If they did then there likely has been a violation of the FDCPA.

 

So what does that mean for you?

Damages for FDCPA Violations in Arizona

If you successfully pursue a case against a debt collector for an FDCPA violation the following damage awards are available to you:

Statutory Damages – $1,000

The FDCPA is a strict liability law. This means that is a bill collector violates the rules they are liable for statutory damages – regardless of whether or not you sustained any actual damages.

The FDCPA states that if a debt collector violates one of its provisions they have to pay you up to $1,000 in statutory damages.

This is per case, not per violation.  So even if the bill collector has committed multiple violations you can only collect $1,000 on the entire case.

Actual Damages

On top of statutory damages you can also collect for actual harm caused to you by the debt collector.  The following are common types of actual damages:

Emotional Distress Damages:  In Arizona you can hold a debt collector liable for the emotional distress damages caused from the violations of the FDCPA. Non-stop collection calls, abusive letters, lawsuits, and other rogue collection activities can take a toll not only on the consumer but on other family members as well.

The amount of emotional distress damages will depend on the facts of your case and the extent of your damages.

Lost Wages:  If a debt collector violates the FDCPA and causes problems with your job you may have a claim for damages resulting from a lost job or reduction in pay.

Wage Garnishment Recovery: Many times violations of the FDCPA occur during the wage garnishment process.  If this happened to you, you may be able to recover the money that was taken from you through the wage garnishment.

Physical Distress Damages: If you have experienced a physical ailment due to a debt collector’s violation of the FDCPA you may be able to recover for the cost of treatment and other damages against the debt collector.

Attorney’s Fees and Court Costs

The FDCPA also provides that you can recover your attorney’s fees and costs if you are successful in your case against the debt collector.  Here at the Arizona Consumer Law Group FDCPA cases are typically taken on a contingency basis – meaning that we do not charge you an upfront fee to take your case and only collect a fee if we obtain a money award in your case.

Injunctive Relieve – The FDCPA Violations Will Stop

Getting an abusive debt collector to pay you money is nice, but what you really want is the behavior to stop. Under the FDCPA not only are you entitled to monetary awards as referenced above, but you can also get a court order to get the debt collector to stop whatever behavior is violating the FDCPA.

There are very specific rules that debt collectors have to follow when attempting to collect a debt.  If the bill collector isn’t following the rules they need to be held accountable.  Just because you fell behind on your bills does not mean that a debt collector has the right to harass you, threaten you, swear at you, lie to you, or any other unfair or disrespectful behavior.

If you are experiencing problems with a rogue debt collector give us a call at (480) 420-4028 or email at john@skibalaw.com.  We offer a free consultation to help you evaluate your case.