The purpose of this article is to outline the steps needed to sue debt collectors for Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), or violations without an attorney. If you want to get an attorney involved, it is best to wait until you get your case on a court docket. This way the attorney can take your case more seriously, and possibly use the pending trial to force a settlement with the debt collector.
- Keep a journal and log ALL contact between you and the debt collectors. This journal should contain all phone calls, demand letters, and any other types of communications you have with debt collectors. Also be sure to note the date and time every time they contact you. It is important to be vigilant here. The amount of evidence you have will have a direct impact on your chances of a successful lawsuit or settlement.
- Try to take a pictures of your Caller ID, so you will have photographic evidence to support your harassment claims. This evidence can be either used in court when you sue, or as leverage to extract a settlement from them.
- Record all phone communications with debt collectors. Most states require that all parties involved in phone conversation be notified when the phone call is being recorded. Fortunately, most debt collector’s record calls themselves and must notify you that they are recording the phone conversation. This gives you a chance to say ‘Well, I am too.’ They probably will not believe you, but you have fulfilled your notification obligations. Be sure to save all phone recordings for a possible lawsuit or as settlement leverage.
- Dispute your debt in writing, and send it back to debt collector via certified mail. This should be handled by sending them a Debt Validation Request. Often times, debt collectors (especially junk debt buyers) do not have the requisite information to prove the debt is yours. They cannot continue their collection efforts until they can provide proof. If they continue collection efforts without providing you proof, they are in violation of FDCPA. You can possibly use this to settle for pennies on the dollar, or even get your case thrown out.
- Take note of ‘dead silence’ when answering your cell phone. Dead silence after you answer your cell phone is a good indicator that an auto dialer is being used to contact you. If a debt collector is using an automated dialer, this is a clear violation of federal law (TCPA or Telephone Consumer Protection Act). It may also be a violation of FDCPA. Either way, it gives you more evidence to use against them.
Be sure to always file a FDCPA violation complaint against the Debt Collector for each and every violation with the Federal Trade Commission. While it is highly doubtful the FTC will follow up with you, filing complaints gives you of paper trail to present when taking legal action against a debt collector.
Click here to review full text of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Click here to for information about Debt Validation Letter.