The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The debt defense team at Guest & Gray in Forney has helped many clients defend lawsuits brought against them by debt collectors. In 2013, we saved our clients over $150,000 via settlements and dismissals. But there are times when it’s the client that should be bringing the lawsuit against the debt collector and not the other way around.
If you’ve ever had a debt collector after you, you know how aggressive they can be. And that aggression often crosses the line. Thankfully, the law provides consumers some protection from over-aggressive debt collectors. Both Texas law and Federal law have a fair debt collection practices act in place to give consumers the ability to sue these debt collectors when they cross the line.
What the Collectors Can’t Do
There are a wide range of things debt collectors are prohibited from doing. The following are some of the things that debt collectors are prohibited from doing by Texas law:
- Alleging that you have committed a crime
- Threatening you with violence
- Cursing at you
- Threatening that you may be arrested
- Threatening that your property may be taken
- Calling anonymously
- Calling repeatedly/continuously
- Lying about the amount of the debt
- Lying about the court status of the debt
- Lying about the identity of the collector
Federal law also prohibits debt collectors from calling before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. or calling you at work if the collector knows your employer does not allow calls from debt collectors.
Can Collectors Take Your House or Your Paycheck?
When third party debt collectors buy the debt from your original creditor, they will often send you a letter stating that failure to pay the debt could result in, among other things, the taking of your home or paycheck to satisfy the debt. As long as you have designated your home as your homestead, it cannot be taken to satisfy consumer debt. And your wages cannot be taken either in Texas.
How Are Collectors Penalized for Wrongful Behavior
This is where things get tricky for you. Under Texas law, you can recover ‘actual damages’ and attorney’s fees if you prevail. Attorney’s fees are easy enough to understand, but what are actual damages? Probably the best example of actual damages in this context is lost wages. If you have lost your job as a result of the improper actions of a debt collector, you might have a good case. But short of actual damages and attorney’s fees, Texas law only allows for civil fines of at least $100 for each violation of the law. If there are no actual damages as a result of the collector’s actions, your case might not be worth pursuing.
Under Federal law you can still recover actual damages and attorney’s fees, but you can also get up to $1,000 in damages. In order to sue a debt collector under the Federal law, the collector must be a professional debt collector meaning they must be a debt collection agency or law firm hired to collect the debt.
Call Our Debt Defense Team for a Consultation
If you have lost your job as a result of the actions of a debt collector or if you have been on the receiving end of blatant harassment or abuse by a debt collector, call the debt defense team at Guest & Gray in Forney at (972) 564-4644. Our debt defense lawyers would be happy to meet with you for a initial consultation to discuss your case and the options available to you.