Can I Sue a Debt Collector for Harassment?
Your rights to seek damages for violations of the FDCPA.
You 100% have a right to sue.
If a collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you have a right to sue that collector in addition to filing a complaint with the FTC, CFPB or your state Attorney General. That’s exactly the kind of help you can get by completing the form anywhere in this section for Collector Harassment.
The information below can help you understand what you can get from collector harassment suits and what you need to know if you think you have a case. If you have questions, call us or complete the form to the right to connect with the right services for your needs.
What can you get from suing abusive collectors?
You have specific rights outlined by the FDCPA about how a collector is allowed to communicate with you and what practices are expressly prohibited, such as making threats of jail time or physical harm. If a collector violates the FDCPA, you can file a complaint and have the right to sue in civil court.
Once you file a civil suit, you can seek damages along with the attorney’s fees and any court fees you incur from seeking the judgement.
Fact: In the first quarter of 2014, there were 2,378 FDCPA suits filed; about one third were repeat plaintiffs.
There are two types of damages you can get:
- Actual damages include any money you’re out because of the collector’s abuse or threats. This includes things like payments for illegal penalties or punitive interest, lost wages, and even damages for emotional distress if that distress led to an incurred expense, such as medical care. According to the FDCPA, there is no monetary limit to the actual damages you can receive in a judgment.
- Statutory damages are basically extra compensation up to $1,000 total based on the level of abuse or number of violations. Essentially, the worse the collector acts, the higher the statutory damages can be. The court sets statutory damages based on the number and type of incidents in each case.
Class action suits by state or fed
Statistics show that most consumers don’t exercise their right to sue for FDCPA violations. Only about one out of every four complaints filed with the CFPB is also pursued by the consumer in civil court.
And understandable in a sense, because most times you just want the collector to leave you alone and stop harassing you. On the other hand, you’re not standing up for your rights and potentially getting money you deserve for dealing with that kind of abuse.
But even if you decide not to file a personal suit, if you file a complaint with the CFPB, FTC or your state Attorney General (and you should always do this part), then you may still be compensated for the harassment. If either federal agency or your state AG receive enough complaints, it may end in a class action lawsuit. This means you and other victims can all receive a small payout for damages based on a history of repeated and habitual violations.
Be careful it’s a violation before you sue
Warning: You could find yourself on the hook for filing if the debt collector didn’t actually violate the FDCPA. If the court finds that you filed your suit in bad faith – i.e. that you sued knowing the collector wasn’t actually violating the law or harassing you. So it’s important to talk to a qualified professional to make sure you have a case.
This also brings up a critical part of filing an FDCPA violation suit. The more detailed proof you can offer of the harassment, the more likely you will be to win your case. So if you don’t have detailed notes, even a legitimate case may be dismissed. But dismissal doesn’t always mean that you filed in bad faith – you just won’t be able to get the damages you may deserve.