Actual Damages for FDCPA

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is designed to protect consumers from abusive or harassing conduct, false or misleading statements or unfair act by Debt Collectors.

What is “actual damages” are available under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

As usual, we start with the statutory definition.  Thanks to LII.

15 USC §1692k[a] says that a debt collector must pay 1- actual damages, 2- statutory damages of up to $1000.00 and 3- Attorney fees and costs.

What does this mean for you?

Attorney fees and costs. The truth is that this is why lawyers take these kind of cases at all.  The bad guy pays the fare for the cost of litigating these violations.   The courts have held that as long as we are reasonable, that the way to calculate our fee is based on the “Lodestar” calculation of the amount of time it took (assuming reasonable) and multiply that by the hourly rate (which also must be reasonable.  (see generally, Hensley v. Eckerhart, US Supreme Court[courtesy of Justia.com]).  In many states, including Virginia, it is against the Rules of Professional Conduct (rules of ethics) for us to share our fees with clients. (See RPC 1.5.), however, we are permitted to take most cases on a contingency fee basis.

Statutory damages of up to $1,000.00.  If a debt collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, they must pay a fine to you.  The question becomes HOW MUCH fine.  The case law on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is clear in that it does not matter if they have caused damages to you—you do not have to suffer any actual damages—in order for you to be entitled to statutory damages.  Similarly, the maximum you can recover in statutory damages is $1,000.00. You may recover less, depending on the circumstances.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires the judge or jury to decide on a 3 factor test of 1-the frequency of non-compliance, 2-the nature of the non-compliance and 3-the extent to which the non-compliance was intentional to determine how much of the $1,000.00 you would be entitled to recover.  However, the case law on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is NOT clear on the question of HOW MUCH.  If they violate the law in more than one way, the majority of cases say that you are entitled to one recovery no matter how many violations they commit.  PUNTIVE DAMAGES ARE NOT AVAILABLE.

Actual damages are hard to describe, they are anything that is an actual “out of pocket” expense.  Examples are

Expense of a collect phone call or text message.

Money that you pay that you do not owe

Money for a lawsuit that is beyond the statute of limitations

Fee for collection that you should not have to pay or is prohibited by law

Other kinds of damages that vary from case to case, and jurisdiction to jurisdiction

Emotional distress damages.  In some jurisdictions, you must show extreme damages, in others, only that there was some impact.  Emotional damages are very hard to value.

So, you can see, actual damages is almost anything, which makes it hard to describe.

If you have been impacted by anything we mentioned here, you can make an appointment to see us.

NO FEE IN YOUR FDCPA CASE UNLESS WE RECOVER!!

 

KCLS LIMITS THE GEOGRAPHY IN WHICH WE TAKE CASES.

YOU MUST BE A VIRGINIA RESIDENT.

If you are not a Virginia Resident, click here to find a lawyer near you.

OUR LEGAL FEES:

The rights afforded to you, as a consumer, under the FCRA and the FDCPA means that a corporation or party who has violated your rights may ultimately be made to pay for statutory damages, actual damages, and your legal fees. Therefore, if we agree to represent you in any case, you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we are successful and we recover on your behalf. We are here to serve and have assisted many consumers TO enforce their legal rights. Let us try and see if we can help you too. That means you pay no fee in your case unless we recover.

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Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc.

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Richmond, VA 23230