In a recent New York Times article, the Times reported what we have known at Navigate Law Group for quite some time - debt collection agencies make critical mistakes very often. According to a report by the United States Public Interest Research Group, medical debt is the second largest cause of complaints about debt collectors to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 63% of complaints allege that the collection efforts are for a deb that was never owed in the first place, has already been paid, or the collector cannot verify it is owed. This is nearly two-thirds of collection efforts for medical debt in the country! The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Washington Consumer Protection Act provide people with some protection against these types of collection practices. Washington also has strong laws that protect consumers with medical debt. Even if you owe the medical debt in Washington a Navigate Law Group attorney may be able to help you drastically reduce the amount of that debt depending on your income at the time of your hospital stay and the hospital you went to. If you have Washington medical bills contact attorney Eli Marchbanks at (360) 205-2256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits specific forms of communication by debt collectors. Specifically, debt collectors cannot contact debtors via post card. This is a bit out-dated as the law does not specifically address more common forms of communication like text message and social media. While the FDCPA does not explicitly address these types of communication, text message and social media communication make it difficult for debt collectors to be in compliance with other portions of the FDCPA.
One example is providing appropriate disclosures. Section 807(11) of the FDCPA requires the first communication by a debt collector to identify (1) that they are a collector, (2) that the communication is an attempt to collect a debt, and (3) that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. This is difficult to do is a text message, and there have been recent instances in which collectors who use text message did not comply with that requirement.
Another requirement of the FDCPA is that collectors cannot reveal the existence of a debt to a third party. Many communications via social media are view-able by third parties. If a collector published a communication on your Facebook timeline or Twitter feed it would likely be in violation of the FDCPA. Further, debt collectors must not use deceptive trade practices, so "friending" you under a fake Facebook account could likely be a violation as well.
Every violation of the FDCPA carries with it the possibility of damages up to $1,000 and mandatory attorney's fees. This means that if the debt collector violates an applicable provision of the FDCPA, they may have to pay you a fee and they will have to cover the cost of your lawyer. If you think a debt collector has violated the FDCPA contact Eli Marchbanks at Navigate Law Group by phone or email at (360) 205-2256 or email@example.com to set up a free consultation.
The most recent data by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows that debt collection agencies are not honoring the rules in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Washington Collection Agencies Act. The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) recently reported some of the CFPB's findings:
If you have been contacted by a debt collector and think they may have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or Washington Collection Agency Act, Eli Marchbanks at Navigate Law Group may be able to defend you at no charge to you. Call or email him at (360) 205-2256 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free consultation.
Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.
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