The Consumer Advocacy division of Higbee & Associates is pleased to announce the launch of our Consumer Protection Services. In addition to offering bankruptcy, debt settlement and debt defense, our services have now expanded to include suing debt collectors on consumers’ behalf for consumer protection violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and other applicable laws.
Federal Consumer protection laws were originally designed to ensure that vulnerable consumers facing hard times were treated with dignity and respect by debt collectors. There are specific requirements that debt collectors must follow in order to be compliant with these Federal laws.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that debt collectors operate in good faith and do not attempt to threaten, intimidate or harass consumers into paying any alleged debts. Examples of FDCPA violations include: calling before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., contacting a consumer at work after being told not to, contacting a consumer who is being represented by an attorney, adding interest and fees beyond what is allowed by state law, threatening, harassing or swearing at consumers and much more. The FDCPA is a strict liability statute, which means that the consumer does not need to show that the violation was intentional. A single violation of the FDCPA is sufficient to establish the debt collector’s civil liability and an award of monetary damages to the consumer.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information kept in the files of consumer reporting agencies. Consumers have many rights under this law, including the rights to have disputed reports investigated, access to their credit reports, and any mistakes corrected. When violations occur, our Consumer Advocacy Division can sue on a consumer’s behalf and seek damages from the violators.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was passed in 1991. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is empowered to implement rules and regulations governing the TCPA. Among other things, the TCPA allows individuals to file lawsuits and collect damages for receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls, faxes, pre-recorded calls, or autodialed calls. On October 16, 2013, the TCPA laws changed and it is now required for consumers to provide express, written consent for any autodialed calls. The TCPA provides for either actual damages or statutory damages, ranging from $500.00 to $1,500.00, per unsolicited call or text message.
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