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Debt Collector Harassment Results In $300K Verdict For Debtor
How many times have you been harassed by a debt collector – sometimes for a debt that you don’t even owe? For most us, the answer to that question is “too many times.” But there’s nothing you can do about it, right? Wrong. Find out why one debtor simply had enough, sued the debt collector and walked away with over $300,000.
Debtor pushed too far
This is the tale of a man who was simply pushed too far – and decided to fight back. According to news reports, Timothy McCollough, a disabled man with a brain injury, was harassed by a collection agency that was trying to collect a Chase Manhattan credit card debt from the 1990’s that he no longer owed.
Despite his protests, the collection agency continued to harass him over the $9,800 debt – which included $6,000 in attorneys’ fees and interest. When the agency hired a law firm to sue him, McCollough was simply pushed too far and decided to hire his own attorney and sue the agency for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Not only was his FDCPA lawyer able to get the lawsuit dismissed, but a jury also found that McCollough was the victim of malicious prosecution and abuse of process and awarded him $311,000 in damages. Of that amount, $250,000 represented compensation for emotional distress, $1,000 for FDCPA violations and $60,000 for punitive damages.
FDCPA violations on the rise
FDCPA violations are on the rise – especially in the current economy – as debt buyers, those companies who purchase bad debt for pennies on the dollar and then do whatever is necessary to collect, harass debtors until they can’t take it anymore. Unfortunately, many debtors don’t realize that they have rights.
The FDCPA says that debt collectors cannot:
Contact you at work or on your cell phone if you ask them, in writing, to stop
Contact you before 8am or after 9pm
Contact you if you ask them, in writing, to stop
Contact you repeatedly in an annoying, harassing or abusive fashion
Contact you when you are being represented by an attorney
Contact your family members, friends, neighbors or co-workers
Continue to attempt collection on a debt which cannot be validated (for which a validation has been requested in writing)
Increase the debt owed by adding attorneys’ fees or interest
Misrepresent the debt owed
Threaten you with legal action that is not permitted or actually being considered
Use abusive or profane language
If you’ve been harassed by a debt buyer, contact an experienced FDCPA attorney to discuss your situation. Debt buyers cannot harass you – and if they do, you can sue them for violating the FDCPA and may be recover money damages like McCollough.
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