We receive a lot of calls from consumers about debt collector harassment. There are many things that a debt collector can do that are illegal and violate your rights. The list could go on for pages and pages. In our experience, however, there are five (5) FDCPA violations that we see with much greater frequency than others.
1 Threatening action, such as wage garnishment, that cannot actually be taken. In Pennsylvania, wage garnishment for credit card debt is illegal except in the most limited of circumstances (usually if an out of state judgment is in place). Any threat to garnish wages in PA (that doesn’t meet the limited exception) would be a violation of the FDCPA. We find that many debt collectors violate this right simply because they don’t know the law. Wage Garnishment is legal in 46 states so debt collectors make the threat and they’re “playing the odds” that you won’t figure out that your rights have been violated.
2 Improper calculation of the alleged debt. Debt collectors often tack on additional costs and fees and interest that they are not legally entitled to. If the collector tries to collect on an amount over and above what is actually due and owing, it is an FDCPA violation. We see this occurring with great frequency. Debt collectors cannot continue to add interest to a defaulted credit card account unless they continue to send you monthly statements, which they never do.
3 Calling or contacting third parties. For the most part, a collector can only contact a third party (friend, neighbor, relative) to find your location and contact information, and only after they have made their own good faith effort to contact you. They may not discuss the alleged debt with this third party. In other words, if they cannot find you then they can contact known associates of yours to try to locate you. Once they do locate you, they may not contact anyone else about your debt.
4 Failure to send a notice of your right to request validation of the debt within five days of first contacting the debtor. This is called the g notice. The collector must advise you that under 1692(g) you have the right to request validation of the alleged debt, including the amount and the name of the original creditor. It’s important that you know who the original creditor was on any debt collection claim so that you can review your records to see if you had the debt or if anything is due and owing.
5 Re-age the debt to preserve the statute of limitations for credit reporting or to make the debt appear newer than it actually is. Wht this means is that a debt collector may not lie about the date of the last payment or otherwise try to extend the Statute of Limitations. A collector may not make the debt appear to be newer than it actually is. This is a common occurrence in debt collection.
If you think that your rights have been violated by a debt collector, simply call our office at 412-348-8600 or send an email to Attorney Greg Artim