Donner Applewhite, Attorneys at Law
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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and civil liability

When St. Louis residents are facing financial struggles and they are being contacted by debt collectors, they are often frightened, intimidated and stressed. The personal issues that accompany a difficult financial situation are compounded by constant calls seeking to collect on debts. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is in place to protect debtors from untoward and illegal behavior on the part of debt collectors. When debt collectors violate the law, however, debtors should understand that they have the option of seeking compensation through civil liability.

When the debt collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the debtor has the right to damages they suffered because of that violation. If it was an individual action, there can be additional damages up to $1,000. If it is a class action, the amount for the plaintiffs will be whichever is less of $500,000 or 1 percent of the debt collector's net worth. With a successful claim, the costs and reasonable attorney fees will be determined by the court.

With this type of violation, the court will consider how often the noncompliance happened, how persistent they were, what constituted noncompliance and if it was done purposely. If it is a class action, the same issues will be considered. Regarding intent, the debt collector will not be liable if it shows that there is a preponderance of evidence that the violation was unintentional and was due to an error.

Debt collectors will use every trick imaginable to try and get payment from debtors. Some of these acts are in violation of the laws to protect consumers. When this is happening, there are steps that the person can take to put a stop to it. If it continues and the law is violated, there could be an option to pursue a civil case. Whatever the situation, a person who is facing a debt collector who is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act must remember they have rights and can be protected by a law firm that specializes in helping people dealing with financial problems.

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