Collection agencies are companies that buy consumer debt and work to recover unpaid balances. There are lenders that have their own in-house department dedicated to debt collection, while others employ third parties to handle collections on their behalf.
While collection agencies can aggressively pursue outstanding debt, they must abide by the debt collection laws established by the Federal Fair Debt Collections Act. These laws regulate the different protocols a collection agency must follow when contacting a consumer about debt.
There are laws in place about:
- False information
Additionally, there is a statute of limitations on the amount of time a collection agency can collect a debt based on a written agreement. Some debts, such as federal student loans don’t have a statute of limitations. Most states have statutes of limitations between three and six years for debts, but some may be longer. In California, there is generally a four-year limit.
Take these steps
If you are being harassed or treated unfairly by a debt collector, there are measures you can take. To file a complaint against a collection agency, use the steps below to end the harassment:
- File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent government agency that is responsible for enforcing the laws and regulations that regulate the consumer finance industry.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), another government agency that enforces debt collection laws.
- Contact the office of your state’s Attorney General to find out more about its debt collection laws. You may also file a complaint with the AG’s office if you determine that the collection agency in question is breaking a state-specific law.
- File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
If that doesn’t work…
Unfortunately, filing complaints against collection agencies does not always get the desired response for the consumer. If your issue was not resolved after filing complaints with CFPC, FTC, and BBB, taking legal action may be your next best option.
Under California law, you may be able to obtain your actual damages which can include damages for:
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
You may also be awarded $1000 in damages if it’s determined the collection agency willfully violated the law. If your case is successful, the collection agency pays all attorney’s fees and costs.
The Law Offices of Robert F. Brennan, APC, Los Angeles debt collection abuse attorney, is a leader in protecting the consumer in today’s complex world. We handle many of our cases on a contingency or semi-contingency basis.