Can I Sue a Debt Collector?
When you miss your debt payments for long enough, your lenders might enlist the help of a debt collector. These people are hired by lenders to get you to pay back your outstanding debt. As they are generally more persistent and annoying than lenders trying to get repaid, be ready to get a lot of calls, letters, and messages.
While debt collectors are annoying, they are legally allowed to reach out to you to try and recuperate the money you owe. And unless you pay up, they aren’t likely to stop anytime soon.
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However, what if a collector is harassing you and you believe they are going beyond the legal limit? Are you able to sue them if you feel they are going too far?
Can I Sue a Debt Collector?
The simple answer is yes, suing debt collectors is something you are able to do if they have gone beyond their legal limits. Later in the article, we will get into more detail about the specific things they can and can’t do.
In order to be successful if and when you sue your debt collector, you need to have some concrete proof. Stories or examples won’t mean much. You will need letters, recordings, or other proof that the collectors were going beyond their rights when trying to collect from you.
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How to Sue a Debt Collector?
So now that you know you are able to do it, how do you sue a debt collector? Well, there are a few different ways you can do about doing so.
Small Claims Court
If you don’t want to hire a lawyer or have a full-blown lawsuit, you can sue them in small claims court. This allows people to argue their case without an attorney, in a relatively short hearing. While this limits the amounts of damages you can go after, it is a much less stressful and long process.
If you feel your case is bigger than that, you have the option of bringing the case to state court. In the lawsuit, you must prove that the debt collector violated the law and if you can prove it, you will be entitled to $1,000 in damages and potentially more if harm was suffered. In this case, you really should have a lawyer as the process can be quite time-consuming and more involved than most of the other options.
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Join a Class- Action Lawsuit
You may have the option to join an active or ongoing class-action lawsuit against an agency. For example, if a certain company has been found to have been breaking the law for years, you may be entitled to damages if you worked with them during that period.
While this technically isn’t suing them, you can also report their actions to a government agency. You are able to contact the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) with any concerns or questions you may have and can also reach out to the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).
Before you select a method, and before you even consider taking legal action at all, you should be sure to consult with an expert or lawyer to see if they believe it is a good idea for you or not.
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What a Debt Collector Can and Cannot Do?
We mentioned earlier that there are laws and rules surrounding what a debt collector can and cannot do. There is a federal law in place called The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) that lays out what they are allowed to do and what is deemed illegal.
What Debt Collectors Can Do
- Contact you between 8 am to 9 pm unless given permission to call you at other times. Now, you may be curious and ask yourself “how many calls from a debt collector is considered harassment?”. The answer to that is confusing as there is no set number, but they cannot send you repeated calls in a short period, as that is harassment.
- They can actually sue you as a last-ditch effort to get you to pay. And if a judge says you are responsible for the debt, the collector can garnish your wages if you still don’t agree to pay.
- Collectors are able to contact other people you know, but only to find out your address, phone number, or workplace.
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What Debt Collectors Cannot Do
- These debt collectors cannot threaten, harass or abuse you in any way, shape or form. This means no profane language, no constant calls, no visiting your home, or anything of the sort.
- They cannot lie to you about how much you owe. Also, they must be able to prove to you that the debt is yours.
- They cannot discuss the debt you have with your friends, family, or employer. The only contact they can have with those people is to ask about ways to contact you, as mentioned in the last section. So while the debt collector can call your job, workplace or friends, they can only do it once.
- They also cannot say that they are going to arrest you or say you committed a crime.
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Always Check Your State Laws
Also, some states have their own laws in place. The specific allowances and disallowances will differ from state to state, so it is important to know the rules in your area before you try to file a lawsuit. Illegal debt collection can be very frightening and annoying to deal with, and no one should have to go through that. If you have pursued legal action, you can send the debt collectors a cease and desist letter as this matter will now be settled in court.
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