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Bizarre case of debt collection harassment in the US

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - Posted by Philip Harvey

In the US, Missouri, in what can only be described as a bizarre case, a debtor made contact with a Creditor. The Creditor was subsequently held responsible for breaching harassment laws under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA").

Under the FDCPA, once a debtor advises a Creditor they have engaged a Lawyer, the Creditor or collection agency must only correspond with the Lawyer appointed by the debtor unless there is prior consent.

In this case, the debtor engaged a Lawyer to represent him regarding his debts. Shortly after the Lawyer was engaged, the debtor made a call to the debt collection agency collecting the debt and asked about the debt and advised the debt collection agency that he had retained a Lawyer concerning this debt. The debt collection agency did not terminate the call at this point, but instead asked why the debtor was engaging a Lawyer, to which the debtor responded he had engaged a Lawyer. A payment plan was attempted by the collection agency before the debtor again stated a Lawyer had been engaged. At this point, the debt collection agency asked for the contact details of the Lawyer.

On these facts the debtor brought an action against the debt collection agency in court for engaging in harassing, abusive and unconscionable conduct.

The agency argued that the actions of the debtor initiating the telephone call amounted to consent to discuss the debt with the debtor.

The Court agreed with the debtor. The fact that the debtor initiated the call was not conclusive that the debtor consented and the agency engaged in prohibited conduct.

One could view the actions of the debtor were a deliberate successful attempt to induce the debt collection agency into breach the FDCPA.

Source: United States District Court Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division.


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