Yes. In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in the Richmond Division, a federal lawsuit was filed against American Collection Systems, Inc.
(“American Collection Systems”), a debt collector, for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (“FDCPA”). The FDCPA is a federal law that aims to regulate the actions of debt collectors. The docket number for this case is Case No. 3:12-cv-00428-REP.
In this case, the plaintiff allegedly took out a loan from a loan company and paid off this loan in whole. The plaintiff alleged that American Collection Systems, the defendant, was employed by the lender and that they sent her a demand letter. The plaintiff alleged that in this letter, the lender claimed that she owed them an overdue amount and that she must contact the defendant for payment methods. According to the plaintiff, she allegedly called American Collection Systems the day after receiving the letter and disputed the debt to the representative on the phone who told her that the records showed that her debt remained unpaid. Additionally, the plaintiff alleged that the employee told her that she would have to pay the full amount in thirty days, or she would be taken to court. Afterward, the plaintiff alleged that she found her original payment receipt from the lender and sent the defendant a physical letter to dispute the debt. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant acted in violation of the FDCPA by using deceptive means to collect a debt that she did not owe, making misleading representations, acting unconscionably, and threatening to garnish her wages when it did not have the right to take such action.
Another federal lawsuit was filed against American Collection Systems for alleged violations of the FDCPA. This lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The docket number for this case is 1:12-cv-02805-RRM-LB.
In this case, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant sought to collect a debt related to an automobile loan. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant called her phone and left a message on her answering machine. The plaintiff alleged that in the voicemail, the defendant did not reveal the name of the company, announce the nature of the call, or tell her that the call was made from a debt collector. Additionally, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant left a number that was registered to their company for her to return their call. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant violated the FDCPA because they did not disclose their identity in the call or identify themselves as a debt collector.
American Collection Systems and its agents were also sued by two plaintiffs, a mother and a daughter, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for alleged violations of the FDCPA, the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and invasion of privacy. The docket number for this case is Case No. 1:12-cv-02908-TCB.
Allegedly, the mother incurred a debt from a creditor which was transferred to the defendant for collection purposes. The daughter alleged that the defendant called her cellphone in order to speak with her mother. The daughter alleged that in the first conversation she had with the defendant, she informed them that her mother could not be reached at her cell phone number. The daughter then alleged that she asked for the defendant to stop communications with her. However, the daughter alleged that the defendant continued to call her and would sometimes even call her up to four times in a day. Additionally, the daughter alleged that in these phone calls, the defendant would often use aggressive language, say that she was lying about her identity, and mock her name. The daughter alleged that the defendant would not reveal their identity when asked and that they would also use pre-recorded messages to call her.
Allegedly, the mother then contacted the defendant and spoke with an employee who demanded full payment of her debt. The mother alleged that she told the defendant that she could not pay her debt because she was on disability, and that upon hearing this, the employee laughed and ended their conversation. The defendant allegedly did not tell the mother that their communication was for debt collection purposes nor did it inform her of her rights. The plaintiffs alleged that because of the defendant’s actions, they both suffered actual damages and emotional distress.
The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant’s failure to identify themselves; failure to send a validation notice; improper contact to third parties; use of unconscionable means, harassment, and abusive language; repeated phone calls and more are considered to be violations of the FDCPA.
In the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, a class action lawsuit was filed against American Collection Systems after it allegedly violated the FDCPA. The docket number for this case is Case No. 1:13-cv-06095-SLT-JO.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendant sent her multiple collection letters for an alleged debt that she incurred. The plaintiff alleged that the letters stated that credit card payments would be subject to a convenience fee. The plaintiff alleged that collecting a fee on a card payment was unlawful due to precedents set by previous cases. She alleged that this action was in violation of the FDCPA because it was a deceptive practice and would allow the defendant to collect an amount that was not authorized by the contract that created the debt.
What constitutes a violation of a consumer’s rights during the debt collection process?
The FDCPA is a federal statute that was enacted to promote fair debt collection, to eliminate unlawful collection practices, and to provide legal protection to consumers against debt collectors. The FDCPA covers consumer debts like credit card debt, student loans, auto loans, and mortgages.
The FDCPA prohibits certain behaviors during the debt collection process. For example, when collecting a debt from a consumer, a debt collector cannot use abusive language, threaten to take action that cannot be taken, or act unconscionably, amongst other things. Additionally, debt collectors are restricted by the hours during which they can call a consumer — they can only communicate with consumers between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. — and they must cease their calls to a consumer if the individual asks them to stop calling. Furthermore, in most states, and unless a debt collector is a debt collection law firm, a debt collector cannot threaten to sue a consumer as it would not have the present right to do so. In these cases, the right to sue remains with the original or current creditor.
If a debt collector has violated a consumer’s rights under the FDCPA, the consumer can sue them for damages. The consumer could be entitled to statutory damages of up to $1,000, as well as actual damages including, but not limited to harm or loss that resulted from a debt collector’s actions.