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"In California, even if you owe a legitimate debt, you still have rights! You cannot be disrespected, you cannot be lied to, you cannot be harassed, and they cannot falsely threaten litigation or that a crime has been committed, among other restrictions. You also cannot receive automated calls on your cell phone, or automatic messages on your cell and/or home phone without your prior consent. There are also many rules as to what creditors and debt collectors can report on your credit reports and how they can access those reports. Each of the these violations (and several others) entitle you to monetary damages, even if you have no actual out of pocket loss from their unfair and abusive conduct. Even if you owe a debt, you are still entitled to assert your civil rights! We accept all debt harassment cases on either a contingency fee basis or seek attorney's fees to be paid from the other side, which means you will not have to pay our fees to assert your rights!
Damages for Harassment
- any actual damage sustained as a result of the violation; Smith v. Law Ofﬁces of Mitchell Kay, 124 B.R. 182 (D. Del. 1991) (actual damages for emotional distress under the FDCPA can be proved independently of state law requirements for a tort action);
- statutory damages of up to $1,000; Wright v. Finance Service of Norwalk, 22 F.3d 647 (6th Cir. 1994) (plaintiff is limited to additional damages of $1,000 per proceeding, and not per violation);
- in the case of a class action, statutory damages to each named plaintiff and amounts to other class members not exceeding $500,000 or 1 percent of the collector’s net worth; Sanders v. Jackson, 33 F. Supp. 693 (ND Ill. 1998) (net worth is interpreted as being the difference between assets and liabilities, and not the fair market value);
- the costs of the action, including reasonable attorney’s fees; Edwards v. National Business Factors, 897 F. Supp. 458 (D. Nev. 1995) (court was to determine consumer’s reasonable attorney’s fees utilizing the lodestar method of calculating time by the usual and customary rate).
The statute authorizes a private cause of action by a person, including the debtor or any other person affected by the provisions of the statute, to be brought against the collector within one year from the date of violation.
The court in a civil action may consider, inter alia, the frequency and persistence of non-compliance by the debt collector; whether the actions were intentional; or whether the actions were bona ﬁ de errors notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures to prevent such errors. 1692k(b) and (c). Cavallaro v. Shapiro & Kreisman, 933 F. Supp. 1148 (EDNY 1996) ( a single violation is sufﬁcient to establish liability).
Have you been harassed?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA, dictates how debt collectors can act when collecting a debt from you. These are things a debt collector can’t do. If you need to reference the law, citations have been provided.
- Ask you to pay more than you owe - The collector cannot misrepresent the amount you owe. [15 USC 1692e] § 807(2)(a)
- Ask you to pay interest, fees, or expenses that are not allowed by law - The collector can’t add on any extra fees that your original credit or loan agreement doesn’t allow. [15 USC 1692f] § 808(1)
- Call repeatedly or continuously - The FDCPA considers repeat calls as harassment. [15 USC 1692d] § 806(5)
- Use obscene, profane, or abusive language - Using this kind of language is considered harassment. [15 USC 1692d] § 806(2)
- Call before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm - Calls during these times are considered harassment. [15 USC 1692c] § 805(a)(1)
- Call at times the collector knew or should know are inconvenient - Calls at these times are considered harassment. [15 USC 1692c] § 805(a)(1)
- Use or threaten to use violence if you don’t pay the debt - Collectors can’t threaten violence against you. [15 USC 1692d] § 806(1)
- Threaten action they cannot or will not take - Collectors can’t threaten to sue or file charges against you, garnish wages, take property, cause job loss, or ruin your credit when the collector cannot or does not intend to take the action. [15 USC 1692e] § 807(5)
- Illegally inform a third party about your alleged debt – Unless you have expressly given permision, collectors are not allowed to inform anyone about your debt except:
- your attorney
- the creditor
- the creditor’s attorney
- a credit reporting agency
- your spouse
- your parent (if you are a minor)
- Repeatedly call a third party to get your location information - The collector can only contact a third party once unless it has reason to believe the information previously provided is false. [15 USC 1692b] § 804(1)
- Contact you at work knowing your employer doesn’t approve - A collector is not allowed to contact you at work if you’ve let them know your employer doesn’t approve of these calls. [15 USC 1692c] § 805(a)(3)
- Fail to send a written debt validation notice - Within five days of the collector’s initial communication, it must send you a notice include the amount of the debt, name of the creditor, and notice of your right to dispute the debt within 30 days. [15 USC 1692g] § 809(a)
- Ignore your written request to verify the debt and continue to collect - A collector can’t continue to collect on a debt after you’ve made a written request to verify the debt as long as the request was made within 30 days of the collector’s written notice. [15 USC 1692g] § 809(b)
- Continue to collect on the debt before providing verification - After receiving your written dispute, the collector must stop collecting on the debt until you have received verification. [15 USC 1692g] § 809(b)
- Continue collection attempts after receiving a cease communication notice - If you make a written request for the collector to cease communication, it can only contact you one more time, via mail to let you know one of the following: that further efforts to collect the debt are terminated, that certain actions may be taken by the collector, or that the collector is definitely going to take certain actions. [15 USC 1692c] § 805(c)