The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is intended to protect consumers from abusive and deceptive practices by debt collectors. To ensure that consumers received the full value of that protection and debt collectors couldn’t escape responsibility for breaking the law by claiming their actions hadn’t done any actual harm, the statute allows for two different types of FDCPA damages.
In addition to actual damages, the legislature included a statutory damages provision in the FDCPA. In simple terms, that means that people whose FDCPA rights have been violated don’t have to prove damages in order to fight back and receive compensation.
Two Types of FDCPA Damages
What are Statutory Damages Under the FDCPA?
Under the FDCPA, a consumer may be awarded up to $1,000 in damages simply because the debt collector willfully violated the law. The plaintiff need not prove any actual harm in order to receive this statutory damage award. The statute also provides for payment of a successful plaintiffs’ attorney fees.
Statutory damages and the award of attorney fees give the FDCPA and other consumer protection statutes teeth by empowering a victim of deceptive practices or debt collector harassment to hold the debt collector accountable, even though he or she may not have suffered demonstrable economic harm. Without this provision, it would be difficult for many consumers to assert their rights, and debt collectors would have far less incentive to obey the law.
Statutory damages may be the only damages awarded in an FDCPA case, or they may be awarded in combination with actual damages.
Actual Damages Under the FDCPA
Though many FDCPA cases involve only statutory damages, deceptive and abusive debt collection practices and violations of other FDCPA rules can do real harm. Where the consumer has suffered actual damages as a result of the debt collector’s illegal actions, he or she may be entitled to compensation for those losses.
Some examples of actual damages in FDCPA cases include:• Physical and emotional distress suffered as a result of debt collector harassment
- Loss of income (for example, if the consumer was terminated from employment or lost work time as a result of repeated phone calls at work in violation of the FDCPA)
- Attorney fees and other expenses associated with defending against unlawful debt collection actions
- Aggravation of medical conditions such as cardiac problems, anxiety, and hypertension (high blood pressure)
In some cases, where the consumer has suffered serious physical, emotional, or economic harm and the abuses have been extreme or repeated over a long period of time, the actual damages awarded in an FDCPA case can be substantial.
Fighting Back When Your Rights Have Been Violated
If you’ve been subjected to harassment, a debt collector has provided you with false or misleading information about your debt, private information has been shared with third parties, or other rights under the FDCPA have been violated, we can help.
At Barshay Sanders, we are fully committed to pursuing fair compensation for victims of FDCPA violations, whether that means statutory damages, actual damages, or both. Our experienced attorneys assess every case for actual FDCPA damages, and pursue any viable claims we identify.
If you’ve been the victim of debt collector harassment or other FDCPA violations, your next step should be to call 855-472-4877 or fill out the contact form on this site to schedule a free consultation.