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Your Rights When Debt Collectors Violate Connecticut Debt Collection Laws

When it comes to debts, it’s important to fully know your rights as to whether the Connecticut collector contacting you is violating any debt collection laws. Creditors and collection agencies residing in Connecticut do have limits on what they can do to collect a debt. These limits are set forth in various federal and state laws. The collection laws are meant to make ensure the creditor plays fairly and that the debtor is not unduly harassed.

Debtors can also file for bankruptcy to get relief from creditors who are acting improperly.

The Main Laws that Apply to Creditors and Collection Agencies

The FDCPA – The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act was enacted in 1977 to protect consumers from abusive credit action. The law regulates when and how collection agencies can try to collect a debt.

If you’re in debt the regulations require that the collection agency inform you that they’re trying to collect a debt and the basis for the debt.

Most importantly, the FDCPA regulations also regulate:

  • The hours the collection company can call: Basically, collection agencies must call during daytime hours.
  • Collection agencies cannot call to harass or to abuse the debtor
  • Collection agencies must cease all collection efforts if the debtor informs the collection agency that the debtor has a lawyer.
  • Collection agencies cannot call a debtor’s place of employment if the debtor tells the collection agency not to call the debtor at work.
  • Collection agencies must be honest: They cannot make misrepresentations about the debt or any settlement of the debt
  • The collection agency cannot threaten arrest and cannot threaten legal action that is not contemplated
  • The collection agency cannot make the nature of the debt open to the public such as by detailing the debt in a postcard.
  • Collection agencies must tell the debtor that the debtor has the right to dispute the debt and to ask for validation of the debt.

Your remedies under the FDCPA

If you believe a collection agency has not complied with the FDCPA you can sue the collection agency in federal or state court. You can ask for actual damages and for statutory damages. Statutory damages can be up to $1,000 plus reasonable legal fees. You can use an attorney to file a claim under the FDCPA or you can file the claim on your own. It is advisable to consult with an attorney before filing any FDCPA claim.

State Consumer Protection Laws

Some states have their own consumer protection laws. States may also have unfair trade and deceptive practice statutes that apply to improper collection activities. These laws can also protect the you from collection actions and from improper actions by creditors. While the FDCPA applies just to collection agencies and not the original debtor; state laws may apply to both the collection agency and the original creditor.

State laws may also have different statutes of limitations.

Common law claims

You may use these claims when original creditors and collection agencies violate common legal standards that are not specifically set forth in statutes. For example, you may be able to sue for libel, slander, invasion of privacy or intentional infliction of emotional distress. An attorney will know which common law claims apply, the burden of proof for these claims and the remedies that are allowed. A key factor to review with your lawyer is whether attorney’s fees can be paid.

Complaints with local agencies

Lawsuits may help the you get some compensation but they can be time-consuming and expensive. If you have to pay for a lawyer, it may not be worth the trouble and expense to bring a lawsuit. Still, the debtor does have other remedies if the main goal is to report the creditor or collection agency, to stop the misconduct and to prevent future misconduct.

These other remedies include filing with local government agency who are tasked with examining consumer fraud. While one individual complaint may not get the government agency to act, if the creditor of collection agency has a number of complaints filed against him/it, then the agency will often proceed.

Some of the common government agencies that you can contact include:

  • The state attorney’s general office. Many attorney general’s offices have their own consumer protection division
  • The state’s own consumer protection office
  • A county or local Better Business Bureau
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Try negotiating yourself

It may be possible to get a collection agency to reduce its claim if you counterclaim that they violated the terms of the FDCPA.

Opting in to filing bankruptcy

Bankruptcy has an automatic stay provision. If you believe you are being unduly harassed or improperly treated by a creditor or collection agency can file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The filing of the bankruptcy immediately creates an automatic stay.

This means the creditor or collection must stop every and all attempts to collect the debt from you. The creditor and collection agency must either let the Trustee in bankruptcy handle their claim or they must get approval from the Bankruptcy Court Judge to get relief from the claim.

Creditors and collection agencies who violate the terms of the automatic stay can be subject to sanctions by the Bankruptcy Court Judge.

The following link is a specific FAQ on the FDCPA which will give you answers to specific points that people in debt often have.

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