Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

How to Record Collection Calls

You should record all collection calls if it is legal for you to do so.

You need to keep a record of any agreements you make with the debt collector (like a payment plan) or promises the debt collector makes (like stopping collection activity while you are current on your payments). Without a recording, any agreements or promises will be difficult, if not impossible, to prove.

You also need to protect your legal rights. If a debt collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act during a call, you need to be able to prove what they said or did to violate the FDCPA. And if a debt collector does violate the FDCPA, you are entitled to up to $1,000 — or even more for egregious violations. A jury in Texas awarded [$1.5 million for 8 especially racist voicemails](](https://caveatemptorblog.com/3627/jury-awards-1-5-million-to-consumer-abused-by-debt-collector/). While that sort of verdict is far from ordinary, the point is this: it can be well worth your time and a little bit of money to record your calls.

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Class Action Attorneys Give Up Over $1 Billion in Claims for $20,000


Class action lawsuits are an extremely important tool, but the case of Seraji v. Capital Management Services is an example of a class action handled very badly. Capital Management Services is a debt collection agency that, according to the complaint, left—potentially—millions of voicemail messages that violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The messages violated the FDCPA because collectors for Capital Management did not identify the company or disclose that they were debt collectors collecting a debt.

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Debt Collectors Will Hunt You Down On Social Networking Sites


We found out earlier this year that debt collectors are using social networks to find and harass debtors, but now at least one collections training center is offering a class on using social media in collections, to “maintain a good customer base, keep good paying customers on track, and find and collect from past due customers.” (Debt collectors like to call consumers their “customers” or “clients,” even though they have no business relationship.)

Debt collectors can use social networks to find and communicate with consumers, as long as they make the appropriate disclosures and comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. But that doesn’t mean you have to make it easy for them.

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Debt Collector Allied Interstate Pays $1.75 Million Fine


In an effort to resolve federal allegations, debt collector Allied Interstate has agreed to pay a $1.75 million dollar fine. Allied Interstate was accused of collecting on debts that people did not actually owe, contacting third parties, and threatening legal action that it did not intend to take.

Unsurprisingly, this type of behavior is illegal.

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Robo-Signers at Debt Buyer Firms Overwhelm Courts

The foreclosure mess got messier over a month ago, when GMAC, Bank of America, and others were caught faking (essentially) affidavits supporting their foreclosure lawsuits. The irony of banks acting irresponsibly with their finances was not lost on the media. Of course, robo-signing, as it was soon termed, was already commonplace in another kind of business: debt buyers.

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How to Stop Debt Collection Calls and Letters

Getting a debt collector to “cease and desist” is easy thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If you are getting calls or letters regarding a consumer debt (credit card, medical debt, rent, etc.), and you want them to stop, all you have to do is send a letter to the debt collector who is contacting you. This is all the letter needs to say:

Stop contacting me.

Just make sure you include your name, address, and phone number so the debt collector knows who to stop contacting.

If the calls or letters continue after you send this letter, the debt collector may be liable to you for $1,000, plus actual damages, costs of litigation, and attorney fees. If that happens, contact a consumer lawyer right away.

Featured image by thecrazyfilmgirl / CC BY 2.0.

North Star Capital Acquisition Offers Settlement of FDCPA Claims

North Star Capital Acquisition, a Minnesota debt buyer, threatened one of my clients, called him repeatedly, and used profanity in several of the phone calls. For example: “You can do anything you f**cking want, but we are going to get this money from you one way or another.”

Shortly after we filed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawsuit, North Star offered to settle for statutory damages, plus attorney fees and costs. Interestingly, North Star offered $500 as a “default” for attorney fees and costs. I find this amusing, since North Star’s law firm, Messerli & Kramer, regularly demands well over $1,000 in attorney fees for collection lawsuits it drafts by the hundreds. (North Star paid our actual fees in the end.)

Here are some of the key allegations from the lawsuit:

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Debt Collectors Use Social Media to Find Debtors


Debt collectors are pretty good about tracking people down and now they are turning to social media to find people that have escaped their grasp. What information have you posted about yourself online?

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Martha Kunkle is Dead

This is old-ish news, but I just got wind of it. Debt buyers and prolific lawsuit-filers CACV and Portfolio Recovery Associates, together with debt collection law firm Johnson, Rodenberg & Lauinger, were supporting their lawsuits with affidavits of Martha Kunkle. Apparently, an employee of Washington Mutual Bank (now bankrupt) told others to sign Martha Kunkle’s names to those affidavits.

The problem was that Martha Kunkle died fifteen years ago, in 1995.

The defendants settled for over one million dollars.

This is not the first time Johnson, Rodenberg & Lauinger has appeared here. Last April, a jury awarded a Montana consumer $311,000 for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

What Debt Collectors Can and Cannot Do

The Federal Trade Commission has posted a video on their website and YouTube outlining consumers’ rights when contacted by debt collectors.

If you have been contacted by a debt collector, watching the video is a good place to start learning about your rights.

(photo: bisgovuk)