Debtors Suing Debt Collectors Successfully Turning Tables
Debtors Suing Debt Collectors Successfully Under FDCPA
Debtors suing debt collectors. Is this a man bites dog story? More and more debtors are taking advantage of their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977 and going after the collectors. The hunter is becoming the hunted! The mouse is chasing the cat. Some debtors have even been known to push and prod the debt collectors into getting angry enough to commit violations they otherwise would be too smart to commit. Messages carelessly left on open, public non-ID voice mails and emails help debtors get a foot in the door. Ethical debt collectors are screaming “entrapment.” Yes there are ethical debt collectors who know that honey catches far more flies than vinegar does.
“The Least Sophisticated Debtor”
Federal case law requires the Court to judge the behavior of the debt collector by the standard of “the least sophisticated debtor.” When the case is viewed through that lens debtors suing debt collectors have a distinct advantage. Unfair, untrue, undignified or disrespectful language can subject the debt collector to judgments up to $1000.00 plus the attorney fee for the successful debtors suing debt collectors. Abusive language, repetitive calls, calls to work after being forbidden to do so and revelation of adverse financial information to third parties are all fertile grounds for lawsuits by debtors suing debt collectors. Idle threat of legal action? Referral to a “legal assistant” or “legal director?” Pretending to be your bank? The alleged debtor has a case. There is no magic number of calls necessary to make a case. The court looks at the totality of the circumstances to see if there is “evidence of harassment.” The FTC recently brought its first case against a Text Messaging debt collector.
Attorneys for debtors suing debt collectors Getting Easier to Find
The internet has made it a whole lot easier to find an attorney to handle one of these cases. One case may not offer enough of a return to be worthwhile for a local attorney. Sometimes newer attorneys take smaller cases to build their practice through good will. The economic benefits to a lawyer become a lot more attractive when he has a lot of these cases. Because debtors suing debt collectors constitutes a federal lawsuit it is easier for an attorney from out of state to take your case. Except for minor differences in local Federal rules the laws applying to debtors suing debt collectors are essentially the same in every state. Law is a business. Like all businesses there are benefits to those who have a large client base. Economists refer to this advantage as the “economies of scale.”
Make a Case…Settle Out of Court
Most of the cases involving debtors suing debt collectors are settled out of court. Debtors suing debt collectors need only prove what lawyers call a “prima facie case.” A prima facie case is an expression that essentially means that the evidence offered by the debtors suing debt collectors is legally sufficient to require an answer. If the defendant doesn’t answer he is at risk of being defaulted. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to defend the case. The defendant must also guard against risking running up the debtor’s attorney fees for which they are also responsible…you get the picture. The thousand dollar cap may not be much but debtors suing debt collectors often get the debt forgiven and expunged from the credit reporting agency files as well.