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Who Can Sue For FDCPA Violations?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from collection harassment and abuse.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act defines the term “Consumer” to mean :

“any natural person obligated or allegedly obligated to pay any debt.”

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1692a(3).

People who do not even remotely owe the debt — including victims of identity theft or spouses who are not obligated to pay the account — are protected by the FDCPA as persons who are allegedly obligated to pay the debt.

The “debt” must be a consumer debt in order for the FDCPA to apply.

The FDCPA protects non-resident aliens from collection harassment.

Some portions of the FDCPA also protect “any person” from “harassment” or “abuse”. Section 806 of the Act provides :

“A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.”

Section 806 provides six examples of debt collector conduct which would constitute harassment, oppression or abuse : (1) using or threatening to use violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person; (2) using obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader; (3) publication of a list of persons who refuse to pay debts (except by reporting such information to a credit reporting agency); (4) advertising a debt for sale in order to coerce payment of the debt; (5) causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse or harass any person at the called number; and (6) except when seeking “location information” and not asked for the caller’s name, placing telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.

Many state consumer collection practices acts including the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act protect classes of people which include “consumers” or “debtors”.

For example, the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act defines “Consumer” or “Debtor” to mean “any natural person obligated or allegedly obligated to pay any debt.” Florida Statutes, Section 559.55(2) (2011). Other protections of the state laws may or may not be co-extensive with the federal law and may be less than or even exceed the limited protections also afforded to “any person” under the FDCPA depending upon the state law.

If you are a Florida resident who is receiving calls or letters from collection agencies, you may contact me by completing the Collection Agency Harassment Form in the right hand column of this page or call my assistant. I will contact you to discuss your situation and how I may be able to help you.

(C) 2011 Donald E Petersen
All rights reserved

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Susan August 27, 2011, 1:34 PM

    Does this include mortgage companies?

    • Don Petersen August 27, 2011, 7:37 PM

      Susan : Mortgage companies that begin servicing the loan before it goes into default are not “debt collectors”. Federal appellate courts disagree about whether and when “default servicers” are “debt collectors”. Many states have laws which also cover original creditors or other laws which govern much of what mortgage servicers are allowed to do. Given the disagreement in the federal courts and the potential availability of remedies under state law, it is very important to consult with a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in the state where you live.

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