The Fair debt collection practices act
Debt collectors have to follow rules. My job is to make sure they do. If debt collectors are calling you, I can make them stop and possibly get you paid for your trouble.
Debt collectors often do bad things. They call you when they aren’t supposed to. They threaten, harass, and annoy you. They send nasty letters. They threaten to file lawsuits based on debt that they cannot possibly sue under. They do this with impunity because most people don’t know that they can sue them for violating the law.
Debt collectors who behave badly are usually violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (or FDCPA). When a debt collector violates the FDCPA, they are statutorily liable for damages up to $1,000.00 plus any actual damages, costs, and attorney’s fees. That’s right – if a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you hire me to sue them, and we are successful, they have to pay your costs and my fees.
THE TELEPHONE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
If debt collectors or other businesses are calling or texting your cell phone without your permission or consent they may be violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Each phone call could be worth up to $1,500 in damages. Some companies or collection agencies will call 5 times a day for weeks at a time. The damages can add up quickly. If you are getting texts, calls, or faxes from debt collectors or other businesses, call me immediately and do not delete your call history. I might be able to help you.
CALLS TO YOUR CELL PHONE
Debt collectors and other companies violate the TCPA by calling your cell phone when they:
- Call your cell phone and
- Use one of the following:
- A pre-recorded voice,
- An artificial voice, or
- An automatic dialing system (ADS)
- Without your prior express consent.
TEXTS TO YOUR CELL PHONE
Debt collectors and other companies violate the TCPA by texting your cell phone when they:
- Text your cell phone
- Through a computer program or some other automated means
- Without your express consent.
CALLS TO YOUR LANDLINE PHONE
Debt collectors and other companies violate the TCPA by calling your landline phone when they:
- Call your landline telephone for commercial (telemarketing) purposes
- Using one of the following:
- A pre-recorded voice, or
- An artificial voice
- OR any call without your express consent.
Companies violate the TCPA by sending you junk faxes when they:
- Send you a commercial fax (usually an advertisement)
- At your personal or business fax number (including electronic faxes)
- Your express consent; or
- A prior business relationship.
CONSUMER FRAUD IN ILLINOIS
The Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act governs consumer fraud litigation in Illinois. It is a very strict consumer-side law that makes Illinois a very favorable state for consumers. Businesses run afoul of the law all the time in the normal course of business and the costs can be severe. A successful consumer fraud lawsuit can lead to punitive damages, monetary damages, and an award for attorney's fees.
Some of the things that the ICFA makes illegal include:
- Chain letters
- Pyramid schemes
- Failure to disclose relevant information
- Threatening conduct toward consumers
- Providing false reports to consumers or government agencies
The text of the law defines deceptive businesses practices as:
Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices, including but not limited to the use or employment of any deception fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation or the concealment, suppression or omission of any material fact, with intent that others rely upon the concealment, suppression or omission of such material fact, in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful whether any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby.
The law is wide reaching and very consumer-friendly. I sue businesses for consumer fraud in Illinois.
CONSUMER FRAUD IN NEW YORK
New York's Deceptive Trade Practices Act (General Business Law §349-§250-e) is less robust than the Illinois law, but still has teeth. In New York, a consumer fraud case has three major elements:
- The act or business practice was consumer-oriented
- The act or business practice was materially misleading
- The consumer was injured as a result of the deceptive act or practice.
Importantly, it is not required that a business intentionally mislead the consumer.
New York allows consumers to recover damages and attorneys' fees in consumer fraud cases. I still handle cases in New York and can always meet via phone or video conference.