The economic upheavals of the past couple of years have led to higher household debt for many in North Carolina and around the country, as many have struggled to stay above water to make ends meet. What people under such stressful circumstances do not need is harassment from creditors who show up at their place of employment, speak to their friends and neighbors, or place phone calls at all times of the day and night.
Many people who are in an already vulnerable financial position fall prey to the predatory and abusive business practices of lenders and debt collectors. What they often do not realize is that there are federal and state laws in place that protect their rights as consumers from this kind of unlawful activity from merchants.
It is possible to collect financial compensation in a successful claim, whether the plaintiff files individually or as part of a class action lawsuit. Standing up for your rights as a consumer against corporate entities levels the playing field and allows you to go on with your life.
Fair debt collection laws
When businesses go after people who have fallen behind in their monthly payments, it may start with harassing calls, but then it can escalate to threats of wage garnishment and other punitive actions. Consumer protection laws at the federal level make this activity illegal.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) under the Federal Trade Commission addresses abusive and unfair debt collection practices of debt collection agencies that often occur across state lines, presenting alternatives that are non-abusive and that promote consistent non-abusive action at the state level. The FDCPA prohibits such activities as:
- Misrepresenting debt, contacting a consumer without proof of debt, using abusive language, or making threats.
- Calling during restrictive hours or ignoring a consumer’s written notice requesting no further contact with the agency.
- Advertising the sale of debt or reporting false information on the consumer’s credit report.
- Contacting a consumer who has retained a lawyer.
Another federal law that targets robocalls from debt collectors is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and prohibits the practice of:
- Calling during restricted hours or after the consumer has opted out of calls from the agency.
- Sending unsolicited fax messages.
- Withholding the identity or source of the agency that they represent.
While every case is different, with clear evidence that the company has violated federal consumer protection laws, pursuing a claim will not only halt harassing and threatening behavior, but also award compensation to the injured party.