Our Redlands debt collection abuse attorneys saw an increase in calls about aggressive debt collection in the second half of 2009. So we were not surprised by a Jan. 21 report in Collections & Credit Risk saying that Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawsuits increased substantially between 2008 and 2009. The article called it a record high number, saying it more than doubled over 2007's total of 3,813. The statistics come from research firm WebRecon LLC, which provides data about consumer lawsuits to the collections industry.
The trend continued into the first half of January, with 319 FDCPA lawsuits filed between Jan. 1 and Jan. 15. The article offered explanations for the rise from ACA International, a trade group from the collections industry. According to its spokesperson, ACA did not believe the increase in lawsuits corresponds to an increase in actual abuses by the collections industry. It noted that the numbers don't show how many claims were dismissed. The spokesperson attributed the spike in part a rise in consumer debt and increased online advertising by consumer attorneys. However, the article said, other types of consumer lawsuits, such as those under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, have seen little to no growth.
We suspect this flat growth shows that increased advertising is not a factor in the rise in FDCPA claims. Our Placentia unfair debt collection attorneys handle both FDCPA and FCRA lawsuits. Purely from speaking to clients and potential clients, we believe that there are more FDCPA lawsuits because consumers are seeing, and reporting, more violations of that law. As more consumers are having trouble paying their debts in a bad economy, debt collectors are losing money. We suspect that this makes some of them so desperate to collect that they cross the line. The collections industry claims that the majority of its employees are law-abiding, but it's fighting an increasingly large number of media reports of outrageous behavior by debt collectors. If it wishes to eliminate this negative PR, it may have to take a harder stance against law-breaking than it has.
At Howard Law PC, we represent individuals and couples who are victims of unfair and abusive behavior by collection agencies. Most consumers don't realize it, but these agencies are subject to two powerful laws when they do business in California: the FDCPA and California's own Rosenthal FDCPA. Both of these laws set out specific guidelines for debt collectors' behavior, including things they must do as well as forbidden behaviors. For example, debt collectors must identify themselves clearly as debt collectors; verify the debt when the consumer requests it; and avoid misrepresentations, deceit, harassment and foul language. As Cerritos unfair debt collection attorneys, we help consumers go after debt collectors that violate these and other rules. In a lawsuit, victims can claim up to $1,000 in damages, plus attorney fees and costs, and sometimes punitive damages that punish egregious behavior.
If you believe your rights were violated by a debt collector, you should call Howard Law for a free consultation about your rights and a possible case. To learn more, call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or contact us through the Internet.