When in debt, understanding the rights afforded to you as a consumer is vital. Unfortunately, many are unaware of their rights, leaving them vulnerable to the predatory practices of debt collectors. Many may not realize when a collector pursues additional funds on top of the amount owed to a creditor. If you’ve been contacted by a collector claiming you owe more than you remember, they may be charging you unauthorized fees. Luckily, the following blog, in conjunction with a California debt collection harassment lawyer, can help you protect yourself from deceitful collectors.
What Can a Collector Pursue?
By law, the only funds a collector is allowed to pursue are those outlined in the contract you signed with a creditor. If you take out a loan for $4,000, they can only attempt collections on that amount. However, if your contract has a clause about interest rates and late fees, these may apply. Because they are in your agreement, the collector assigned to your case is within their right to also pursue these fees.
A collector cannot attempt to collect any debt not covered in your original contract with the creditor. This includes “collection” or “convenience” fees. If the amount the collector presents does not match the amount owed with interest included, they may be pursuing unauthorized fees.
What Can I Do If a Collector Tries to Collect Unauthorized Fees?
If a collector pursues an amount you do not recall, it’s important to review your original agreement to ensure that these fees are not applicable to or authorized for your deal. In some instances, you may not have known about the interest rates on your debt. However, they may be attempting to make an illegal collection.
This is a clear violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) as it is a prohibited behavior. If a collector misrepresents the debt in any way, including the amount owed, or charges additional fees, they are in violation.
As such, you will likely be eligible to pursue legal action. In some instances, their attempts to collect a debt you don’t owe may cause damages. These generally include lost income, such as a collector harassing you to the point where it costs you your job. However, you may also be able to prove that the action of a collector caused you anxiety and mental anguish.
In instances where there are no damages to prove, you can still recover compensation. For each violation of the FDCPA, you can receive up to $1,000 in statutory damages.
At Loker Law, we understand how stressful debt can be, without worrying about deceptive practices. As such, we believe in holding those who violate the law accountable. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you through these issues.