It is easy for an individual to feel powerless against the constant barrage of phone calls from creditors and debt collectors. And unfortunately, this constant harassment has become an unpleasant fact of life for many Americans.
But, not every debt collection method is allowed by law. Consumers are not helpless against unscrupulous debt collectors. Both Nevada and Federal law protect consumers from unfair debt collection practices.
One of the most important pieces of legislation in the field, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), prohibits many predatory and abusive debt collection practices and establishes guidelines that debt collectors must follow.
If you've been abused or harassed by debt collectors, your rights as a consumer may have been violated. Contact the attorneys at 702-DEFENSE to schedule a consultation today.
What actions of debt collectors are prohibited under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are forbidden from engaging in many debt collection practices that might serve to harass or abuse the consumer. In general terms, the FDCPA prevents debt collectors from engaging in behavior that is “false, deceptive, or misleading” when attempting to collect on a debt.
The law identifies and prohibits many common debt collection practices.
Some of the abusive and harassing behavior outlawed by the FDCPA, includes:
- The use, or threat of use, of violence or other criminal means to harm a person or the person's reputation or property.
- The use of obscene or profane language or language that would tend to abuse the hearer or reader.
- The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts.
- Advertising to sell any debt in order to coerce the consumer into paying the debt.
- Calling or engaging a person in a telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass anybody at the called number.
- Calling the consumer without meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity.
In addition to prohibiting abusive behaviors, debt collectors are also forbidden from engaging in the following false or misleading actions under the FDCPA:
- Falsely representing the amount, status, or character of any debt.
- Falsely representing to the consumer that any individual is an attorney or that a communication is from an attorney.
- Threatening to take an action against the consumer that is not legally permissible or is not intended to be taken.
- Representing or implying that the failure to pay a debt will result in the imprisonment or arrest of the consumer unless such an action is lawful and the debt collector intends to pursue such an action.
- Representing or implying that the non-payment of a debt will result in the garnishment, seizure, or sale of any property or wages of the consumer unless such an action is lawful and the debt collector intends to take such action.
- Falsely representing or implying that the consumer has committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer.
- Communicating, or threatening to communicate, any credit information which is known, or should be known, to be false.
- The use of any false representation or deceptive means in order to collect, or attempt to collect.
- The use of any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector's business, company, or organization name.
In addition to preventing common false or misleading practices, the FDCPA also prohibits many unfair practices of debt collectors. Some examples of unfair practices forbidden by the FDCPA include:
- Collecting any amount (including fees, interest, and other charges) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.
- Soliciting a post-dated check for the purpose of threatening or instigating criminal prosecution.
- Depositing, or threatening to deposit, any post-dated check or other post-dated payment instrument prior to the date on such check or instrument.
Nevada Debt Collection Laws
Pursuant to N.R.S. § 649.370, any violation of the FDCPA is also a violation of Nevada debt collection law. In addition to the guidelines and prohibitions for debt collectors provided under the FDCPA, the state of Nevada also has detailed regulations governing the manner in which a debt collector may attempt to collect.
Nevada debt collection laws prohibit collection agencies from engaging in the following actions, amongst others:
- Using subterfuge, pretense, or misrepresentation to collect any debt.
- Issue any collection notice or collection that imitates legal process or purports to be from any government authority.
- Harassing a debtor's employer in collecting or attempting to collect on a debt.
- Operating its business from an address or post office box not listed on the collection agency's license.
- Collecting, or attempting to collect, any interest, charge, fee, or expense incidental to the principal debt, unless:
- the charge, interest, or fee is authorized by law or, as agreed to by the parties, the creditor has added those charges to the principal before the receipt of the item of collection.
- the charge, interest, or fee is authorized by law or, as agreed to by the parties, has been added to the principal by the collection agency and described as such in written communication; or
- the charge, interest, or fee has been judicially determined as proper and legally due from, and chargeable against, the donor.
N.R.S. § 205.322 makes it a crime to engage in the extortionate collection of debt. Under the statute, any debt collector who causes a debtor to have "reasonable apprehension" that a delay in paying the debt could result in the use of violence or other criminal means to:
- physically harm the debtor; or
- damage any of the debtor's property.
Violation of the extortionate collection law is a Class B felony, which can be punished by a prison term of 1 to 6 years and a significant fine.
What can I do if I've been a victim of unfair collection practices?
Importantly for consumers, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act creates a civil cause of action for consumers who have been subjected to abusive, deceptive, or unfair collection practices.
Under the FDCPA, any debt collector who violates the terms of the Act's prescribed collection practices may be held liable for those actions through civil suit. Some of the damages a victim of debt collector's violation of the FDCPA may be entitled to receive include:
- Damages for emotional distress.
- Recovery of garnished wages.
- $1,000 in statutory damages.
- Damages for physical distress.
Proving that you've been the victim of a violation of the FDCPA can be a difficult and protracted process. Even if you succeed, you must still prove that you are entitled to receive compensation for the financial, emotional, and physical harm you suffered. An experienced Nevada debt collection attorney will guide you through the process and argue, on your behalf, that you are entitled to receive compensation for the harm caused by debt collectors in violation of the FDCPA.
Why Should I Hire An Attorney?
You have rights as a consumer. There is no reason to tolerate the abusive, harassing, unfair, or deceptive practices of unscrupulous debt collectors.
If you've been harassed by debt collectors through excessive phone calls, late-night phone calls, threats of violence, or threats of legal actions, you may be entitled to bring a civil suit against the debt collector in question.
To discuss the details of your case, schedule a consultation with the Nevada bankruptcy attorneys at 702-DEFENSE.
In addition to enforcing the provisions of the FDCPA through civil suit, the attorneys at 702-DEFENSE can help you remedy the underlying debt that has debt collectors calling you – there are a variety of different types of bankruptcy, each of which has the potential to offer you an opportunity to discharge many common types of debt and help you have a positive financial future.