You have the right to sue a debt collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. You may recover money damages. Also, under the law, they have to pay and attorney fees or costs.
Step by step how to sue a collection agency in small claims court.
If you have decided to take action against a collection agency for violating the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) we have some tips for you. It's not easy but it is very do-able and with a little education about the process you can limit the risk of getting your case dismissed.
Do you have a case?
First off you need to determine what they did and if it qualifies for a law suit? If you were nothing more than inconvenienced a time or two you may lose or the judge may dismiss the case altogether. Suing a collection agency is meant to give you closure and perhaps damages for a violation but too many consumers run into court and only end up annoying everyone because their case is so flimsy. So what is a good case? Just read some of the successful lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against collection agencies.
They usually involve repeated phone calls at all hours, threats, harassment or intimidation or obvious violations such as refusing to validate the debt at your request yet continuing to try and collect. Those are all good reasons to take action. It's also important to show what you did before you took that final step and filed your lawsuit. Keeping good records and receipts is paramount to building a good case.
Building the case
Prior to filing your lawsuit you should have asked the collection agency to stop whatever it was they were doing. For example if you told them to stop calling you and they refuse then you need to follow up with a letter to the collection agency certified mail- return receipt requested putting your demand in writing. Then if the agency refuses to stop you have proof that a letter was sent and received by them and yet they continued. Just claiming you told them by phone doesn't preserve your rights.
If you have witnesses to the harassment then take notarized statements from them to back up your case. If you sent them a validation of debt request certified mail but they never responded then you have the certified receipt with the person's signature to prove you asked. These paper trails can be the difference between winning and losing so document everything. No matter how many letters, faxes, emails or phone calls you made, take time to include copies of your phone bills, emails or fax confirmations so that you can quickly show the judge the agency's neglect.
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