The FDCPA is a wonderful statute. It protects regular people from harassment, abuse, and false representations by debt collectors. Outright harassment is less common that it once was, but debt collectors are full of misrepresentations. Sometimes it seems they just can’t follow the law.
One of the less well understood parts of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act is damages. Under the FDCPA a consumer whose rights have been violated by a third-party debt collector can recover 1) Actual Damages, 2) Statutory Damages, 3) Attorney’s Fees, and 4) Costs.
Actual damages can be emotional distress, including anger, frustration, hopelessness, and fear. It can also be amounts that you have paid to a debt collector that you did not owe. Actual damages are what lost as a result of a debt collectors bad acts. You do not need to have actual damages to bring a case.
Statutory damages are up to $1,000 per case. Not per violation, per case. This is commonly misunderstood and many people are under the impression that they can recover $1,000 per violation, but the law is per case.
The FDCPA provides for reasonable attorney’s fees. This means that a lawyer who takes on your FDCPA case should not charge you any money. They will get paid at the conclusion of the case.
Costs are costs of the case. It costs $400 to file a case in federal court and after that costs can include the costs of depositions, travel to depositions, expert witnesses, and other related costs.