The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced that GC Services, a third party debt collection company, has agreed to a settlement to resolve claims that it violated the Federal Fair Debt Collection Protection Act (FDCPA). Pursuant to the Settlement, GC Services agreed to pay $700,000 in civil penalties and comply with the FDCPA’s requirements. GC Services was accused of a number of FDCPA violations, including repeatedly contacting persons other than the debtor in an attempt to collect the debt. This is prohibited by the FDCPA because it not only constitutes harassment of persons that do not owe the debt, it also has the potential to embarrass the debtor if the person contacted knows the debtor.
The FDCPA is a federal statute intended to protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices perpetrated by third party debt-collection agencies. Acts prohibited by the FDCPA include contacting debtors after 9 p.m., threatening arrest, or using abusive language when contacting a debtor. The collection agency also may not disclose debt related information to anyone other than the debtor, the debtor’s spouse, and the debtor’s lawyer.
The FDCPA is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, it also provides a private right of action. While the remedies available in court under the FDCPA are somewhat minimal, it is highly likely that the collector’s activities constitute a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA prohibits unsolicited phone calls and imposes a statutory minimum penalty of $500 per phone call. In order to invoke this provision, however, the debtor must request that the debt collector cease its phone calls.
If you would like to discuss anything relating to the FDCPA or TCPA, contact Jeff Price, a lawyer in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Jeff.Price@beasleyallen.com.
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