The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that regulates debt collectors. It provides guidelines that debt collectors must follow and imposes strict liability on those who do not: a plaintiff who shows evidence of an FDCPA violation can recover statutory damages, actual damages, and – often most significantly – attorney fees. To prevail, defendants must show that there was no violation or that it was the result of a "bona fide error" – a mistake that took place in spite of having procedures in place to prevent it.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is a separate federal law that regulates any entity that uses the telephone to do business. It applies to debt collectors, because they often or always limit themselves to phone or mail communications in their efforts to collect debts. Like the FDCPA, the TCPA is a strict liability statute that imposes damages of $500 per call – meaning that damages can mount quickly for someone accused of making daily or weekly calls that violate this law. However, the Federal Communications Commission has adopted regulations that clarify when, how, and to what extent the TCPA applies to debt collectors; so it is important for debt collectors who face TCPA claims to use counsel who is familiar with this area and who knows what might and might not be violations.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys in this area file dozens of lawsuits every month, offering to settle them quickly as part of a "volume practice." Defending FDCPA litigation therefore involves not only knowing the law and the facts, but also the business goals of the client, to determine when it makes sense to settle and when it makes sense to push back. Attorney Jason Spak at the Pittsburgh law firm of Picadio Sneath Miller & Norton, P.C. strives to know the law, the facts, and the relevant business objectives of the FDCPA / TCPA clients he represents, and he handles lawsuits in this area throughout the country.
For more information, call 412-288-4000 or send our PSMN ® Pittsburgh financial services attorneys an e-mail by completing the contact form on this website.