Written by attorney Michael Stephen Agruss

Damages in Debt Collection Harassment Cases

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Rosenthal Act) provide two types of damages for consumers: actual damages and statutory damages. Actual damages include emotional distress and any type of out-of-pocket expenses. On the other hand, statutory damages are awarded when a consumer proves a debt collector violated the FDCPA and/or the Rosenthal Act. If a debt collector fails to comply with any provision of the FDCPA, the debt collector is legally responsible to the consumer for statutory damages up to $1,000.00. In determining the amount of statutory damages to be awarded, the FDCPA provides that the jury shall consider, among other relevant factors:

  1. The frequency and persistence of noncompliance of the FDCPA by the debt collector,
  2. The nature of such noncompliance with the FDCPA, and
  3. The extent to which noncompliance was intentional.

If a debt collector violates the Rosenthal Act, the debt collector shall be legally responsible to the consumer in an amount not less than $100.00 nor greater than $1,000.00. Therefore, if the consumer is a California resident, they may obtain a maximum of $2,000.00 in statutory damages. Under the FDCPA alone, however, the consumer ma obtain a maximum of $1,000.00 in statutory damages.

Neither the FDCPA nor the Rosenthal Act allow for debt relief to the consumer. However, sometimes Agruss Law Firm, LLC, is able to receive debt relief for our clients instead of money damages. That is, instead of our clients receiving money damages, the debt collector will wipe out the debt and clear up the client’s credit report. Therefore, although the law does not provide for substantial monetary recovery for the consumers, obtaining debt relief for our clients is sometimes an option. Recently, my clients have received debt relief in the amount of $2,500.00, $7,500.00, and over $20,000.00. Debt relief is the unwritten type of damages in debt collection harassment cases. Consumers should keep this potential type of benefit in mind when considering whether or not to pursue a case.

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