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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, and Massachusetts Debt Collection Law prohibit invasion of privacy, false or misleading statements, harassment, and other abusive acts by debt collectors and creditors.
When a debt collector violates your rights, you have the right to sue for damages. Here are some common scenarios in which consumers have successfully brought suits against debt collectors and recovered money damages.
- A debt collector has spoken with someone besides you or your spouse about your debt;
- You have received an excessive number of calls at work from a debt collector, especially after you have asked the debt collector to stop;
- You have sent a cease and desist letter to a debt collector, and they have ignored it;
- A debt collector has threatened to sue you, garnish your wages, or take your property;
Filing suit against a debt collector when you owe money sometimes seems odd. However, the debt collection laws exist to protect all consumers even those who owe debts. The laws only work if those who have been wronged bring suit to vindicate these rights. Statutory money damages are available to ensure that these laws are enforced. We cannot take every case, but we investigate every case for free. If we do take your case, we get our fees from the defendants, not from you.
Debt Collections Basics
When abusive debt collectors break the law, individuals can sue for damages. Many debt collectors make their living by routinely breaking the law and paying out money damages to people who sue them. This is bad for society, but it can be good for people who know their rights and are motivated enough to enforce them. The information below is meant to help you understand the process of bringing a law suit against a debt collector under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Most FDCPA cases settle early (one to two months), but you must be willing and able to go the distance to trial and to testify before deciding to bring a case.
There are two types of money awarded in an FDCPA case (called damages”): statutory and actual. Almost everyone gets statutory damages of up to $1,000 if they prove a violation of the FDCPA. In settlements, consumers almost always receive at least $1,000. Additional damages are also available. So-called “actual damages” are things like out-of-pocket losses
and emotional distress damages.
In order to recover money for emotional distress you generally have to have specific objective or physical symptoms of the distress, like loss of sleep, anxiety attacks, loss of appetite, etc. If you have any symptoms of emotional distress that were caused by a debt collector write them down as soon as you can and share them with me. If you think you need medical attention, it also makes sense to visit a doctor or mental health professional. Damages for emotional distress vary, but usually are anywhere from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars, depending upon the
If we take your case, you pay no attorney’s fees. The debt collector must pay our fees upon successful judgment or settlement. If there is no successful judgment or settlement, you do not owe any money.
An FDCPA Case Steps
You must prepare a written timeline of what the debt collector did to you. It
does not need to be anything fancy; just lay out what you remember. Use
quotations when you can to indicate what the debt collector said to you and/or third parties as much detail possible. Please email this to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many cases settle early with no significant involvement from the client. The vast majority of cases are filed, the lawyers negotiate and conduct discovery, a settlement is reached, and the client is paid. However, sometimes a defendant will not settle reasonably and a case must go to trial. If this happens you must make yourself available to testify at a deposition and at trial. You must also respond to our requests and attempts to communicate with you.
If this all sounds like something you would like to explore, email us at email@example.com or call us during business hours at (617) 338-9400.