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Debt collectors may owe money to the people they harass

People in Pennsylvania who are dealing with unpaid obligations and are being harassed by bill collectors may be able to hold those collectors accountable for their actions. If debt collectors violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debtors have the right to sue them. Every infraction committed by a debt collector could result in a judge ordering the debt collector to pay a $1,000 statutory award to the plaintiff.

Before taking a debt collector to court, it is important for individuals to know that their rights under the federal legislation only apply when dealing with third-party debt collectors. This means that an FDCPA claim could not be filed against a credit card company's own collection department. However, a person who is being harassed by their original creditors may be entitled to protection under applicable state laws.

Some violations of the FDCPA that a debt collector could be held accountable for include calls at odd hours of the day, repeated threatening calls and abusive language. If debt collectors lie, threaten criminal prosecution or disclose sensitive information to a third party, these actions are also illegal. Rather than avoiding these types of phone calls, a person being harassed by debt collectors might want to begin recording them so that they can be used as evidence in a lawsuit.

Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are not allowed to contact an individual about their credit card debt once that person has hired an attorney to handle their case. In addition to fielding all communication from debt collectors, an attorney might be able to assist an individual with the process of filing a creditor harassment claim and obtaining a judgment.

Source: Main Street, "Does a Debt Collection Agency Owe You Thousands of Dollars?", Nicholas Pell, Jan. 15, 2015

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