Civil Liability (15 USC 1692k)

Civil liability (15 USC 1692k) is imposed on debt collectors who use unfair or illegal debt collection tactics. Consumers can sue debt collectors who violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in federal court., The debt collector may just be liable to you for statutory damages of to $1,000, plus any actual damages suffered, plus attorney fees!

  1. Civil liability can be imposed in these forms – 813 A:
  2. Factors courts consider in assessing damages – 813 B:
  3. Collectors are protected from liability for unintentional errors – 813 C:
  4. Actions can be brought in federal or state courts – 813 D:
  5. Protection for defendants relying on the FTC’s opinions – 813 E:
  6. Employee liability – Note 1
  7. Damages – Note 2
  8. Application of statute of limitation period – Note 3
  9. Advisory opinions – Note 4

(A). Civil liability can be imposed in these forms:

(1) actual damages,

(2) discretionary penalties, and

(3) costs and attorney’s fees;

Except as otherwise provided by this section, any debt collector who fails to comply with any provision of this title with respect to any person is liable to such person in an amount equal to the sum of:

A. Any actual damage sustained by such person as a result of such failure;

(1) in the case of any action by an individual, such additional damages as the court may allow, but not exceeding $1,000; or

(2) in the case of a class action,

(a) such amount for each named plaintiff as could be recovered under subparagraph (A), and

(b) such amount as the court may allow for all other class members, without regard to a minimum individual recovery, not to exceed the lesser of $500,000 or 1 per centum of the net worth of the debt collector; and

(c) in the case of any successful action to enforce the foregoing liability, the costs of the action, together with a reasonable attorney’s fee as determined by the court.

B. On a finding by the court that an action under this section was brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, the court may award to the defendant attorney’s fees reasonable in relation to the work expended and costs.

(B). Discusses relevant factors a court should consider in assessing damages.

In determining the amount of liability in any action, the court shall consider, among other relevant factors:

(1) In any individual action under Section 13 subsection (a)(2)(A), the frequency and persistence of noncompliance by the debt collector, the nature of such noncompliance, and the extent to which such noncompliance was intentional; or

(2) In any class action under Section 13 subsection (a)(2)(B), the frequency and persistence of noncompliance by the debt collector, the nature of such noncompliance, the resources of the debt collector, the number of persons adversely affected, and the extent to which the debt collector’s noncompliance was intentional.

(C). exculpates a collector who maintains reasonable procedures from liability for an unintentional error.

A debt collector may not be held liable in any action brought under this title if the debt collector shows by a preponderance of evidence that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error;

(D). Permits actions to be brought in federal or state courts:

within one year from the violation without regard to the amount in controversy, or in any other court of competent jurisdiction, on which the violation occurs.

(E). shields a defendant who relies on an advisory opinion of the Commission.


Note 1. Employee liability. Since the employees of a debt collection agency are “debt collectors,” they are liable for violations to the same extent as the agency.

Note 2. Damages. The courts have awarded “actual damages” for FDCPA violations that were not just out-of-pocket expenses, but included damages for personal humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish, or emotional distress.

Note 3. . Application of statute of limitation period. The section’s one-year statute of limitations applies only to private lawsuits, not to actions brought by a government agency.

Note 4. . Advisory opinions. A party may act in reliance on a formal advisory opinion of the Commission pursuant to 16 CFR 1.1-1.4, without risk of civil liability. This protection does not extend to reliance on this Commentary or other informal staff interpretations.

, section 1692k allows debtors and non-debtor

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