How much can I get in statutory damages under the FDCPA?

Statutory damages under the FDCPA

How much money can you receive in statutory damages against an abusive debt collector?

You can receive up to $1,000.00 in statutory damages under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

Note:  This is different than the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) where you can receive statutory damages of up to $1500 per illegal call/text.

Let’s talk about:

  • What are statutory damages in general?
  • What are the factors in how much you can receive?
  • Examples of statutory violations that would lead to damages.
  • What other damages can you get in an FDCPA suit?
  • If you are being harassed by a debt collector, what should you do next?

What are statutory damages in general?

These are damages you receive even when you have not suffered any injury.  Statutory damages are different than actual or compensatory damages.  Those damages are to compensate you for a loss.

And punitive damages are to punish the defendant for its bad conduct and deter others from ever doing that again.

So why do we get statutory damages?

It is to encourage you to sue abusive debt collectors.  If debt collectors could break the law and you could only sue if you were harmed, then the fear was not enough lawsuits would be filed.  The government cannot enforce all the violations of the FDCPA.

So it has asked private citizens to sue in order to police the industry.  When the bad companies realize they will be sued, that helps to clean them up.

Statutory damages are your incentive, even if you were not injured by the abusive conduct.

I think you should get a lot more than $1,000 (it hasn’t gone up since the 1970s when it was created) but still, a $1,000 is a $1,000.

What are the factors in how much you can receive?

Here’s what the law says:

The frequency and persistence of noncompliance by the debt collector, the nature of such noncompliance, and the extent to which such noncompliance was intentional.

15 U.S.C. 1692k.

So we look at:

  • How many violations did the debt collector commit?
  • Why did the violations happen?
  • Were the violations intentional or unintentional?

Put another way, was this a one-time isolated event or has the debt collector been doing this a lot and does not seem to care about it?

Examples of statutory violations that would lead to damages.

There are so many ways debt collectors violate the FDCPA statute — here are just a few examples.

A debt collector puts false information on your credit report.

Calls your neighbors.

Starts calling your co-workers.

Calls your family members.

Keeps on calling your work after you tell them not to call you at work.

You send a cease and desist letter and the collector still calls you.

Threatens to credit report after the time period to credit report is over.

Debt collector says it will sue you even though the statute of limitations is over.

Collector sues you, and loses, but still reports you owe the debt.

Uses abusive language against you.

Almost every case we have ever seen, you can get more than just statutory damages.  Let’s talk about those other damages next.

What other damages can you get in an FDCPA suit?

You can get compensatory or actual damages — these are to compensate you.

This can include:

  • Emotional distress which naturally happens when you deal with an abusive debt collector
  • Economic damages —  from false credit reporting, losing a job, etc.

We have had jury verdicts in the six figures on compensatory damages against debt collectors.

Your attorney can be awarded attorney fees that the debt collector has to pay.  You can imagine they hate this and it drives them to settle cases where they know they have been caught.

Often we will sue under state law which allows us to get punitive damages to punish the debt collector and discourage other collectors from breaking the law also.  Juries have awarded our clients six figures in punitive damages against debt collectors.

If you are being harassed by a debt collector, what should you do next?

Call us at 205-879-2447 if you live in Alabama.  We can understand what you are going through and then help you see your options.

Sometimes the best option is to sue the abusive debt collector for money damages.  That makes them stop harassing you!

We will be happy to help you understand your options so call us now at 205-879-2447 or contact us through this website.  

We look forward to hearing from you!

John Watts

PS — if you want a good overview of the FDCPA you can read our article on the practical guide to using the FDCPA or our Frequently Asked Questions about harassment cases.

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