While it might feel like debt collectors have free reign over your life and your finances, there are limits on their behavior that are regulated by the United States federal government.
Specifically, debt collectors are beholden to Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The purpose of this act is to protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices, like contacting your job without permission, calling you at excessively early or late hours without your consent, or divulging information about your debt to anyone besides you or your spouse.
If a debt collector has violated the FDCPA, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against them. In such a situation, it is always beneficial to contact an experienced debt resolution attorney who can protect your rights in the Minnesota court system.
What debt collectors cannot do
Behaviors forbidden by the FDCPA fall into three categories:
- Harassment – Includes making threats against you, repeated calls for the sole purpose of pestering you, or using foul language.
- Dishonesty – Covers lying about how much you owe your creditor, misrepresenting themselves as a government employee, or threatening to arrest you.
- Unfair practices – Includes depositing a check before the date indicated on that check (which might cause it to bounce), taking your property illegally, or trying to collect interest on top of the rate you agreed upon.
Legal paths for suing a debt collector
If a debt collector subjects you to illegal practices, you have a number of options:
- Sue the collector in state court –You may have grounds to sue the collector in court for damages up to $1,000. You may be able to get an even larger settlement if you can show that you were harmed by the collection practices, e.g., if a collector called your boss and you were fired as a result. For these types of lawsuits, it is critical to have an experienced bankruptcy attorney representing you so that you can be adequately compensated.
- Sue the creditor in small claims court – The creditor can be held responsible for using a collector that violated the FDCPA. However, the size of the potential award in small claims court is significantly smaller than the one you could receive in other Minnesota courts, and you may not have as much time to explain the severity of the harassment because small claims court usually does not have multiple hearings.
- Report the agency – You can also report the collection agency to the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the Minnesota attorney general. While this might prevent future debtors from being harassed by the collector, it may not compensate you financially for the stress or monetary harm you have suffered.
Knowledgeable guidance from a Minnesota bankruptcy lawyer
If you are the victim of inappropriate behavior by a Minnesota debt collector, the experienced lawyers of Martin & Hedervare PLLC can help. Martin & Hedervare’s attorneys have years of experience serving the Twin Cities, Minneapolis, and St. Paul communities. Contact us at (651) 383-4725 today to schedule a consultation.