In order to effectively curb abusive debt collection practices, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) provides four forms of recovery for violations.
First, there are statutory damages the Court can award up to $1,000.00 per case. These are standard in successful FDCPA suits. The award is not $1,000 per violation, but $1,000 total if any violation is found. In determining the amount of statutory damages, a court will consider the frequency and persistence of noncompliance by the debt collector, the nature of such noncompliance, and the extent to which such noncompliance was intentional.
The Court can also award costs associated with the lawsuit. This means any filing fees, witness fees, deposition transcripts, and copies pursuant to Federal law.
The Court can award actual damages, as well. This includes any out-of-pocket expenses associated with the FDCPA violation (like certified mail or copies). It also encompasses any emotional distress caused by the violation, especially where an individual has sought mental health treatment due to the abusive collection tactics.
Finally, the Court can award attorneys fees. Such an award is mandatory in almost every successful FDCPA case in the Eastern District of Virginia. The Court evaluates several factors in determining what the appropriate award for attorneys fees should be. The consumer's attorney will prepare and file the necessary paperwork and affidavits for the award.
Gregory S. Bean is a consumer protection attorney at Collins & Hyman, which represents clients in Williamsburg and Newport News. www.collinshyman.com
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