The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that prohibits abusive and unethical practices by debt collectors (also known as collection agencies)–individuals and companies who seek to collect debts on behalf of another person or company. Debt collectors often use phone calls and letters to communicate with people they believe in owing debts, and may threaten legal action and reports to credit agencies in those collection efforts. The FDCPA also contains rules and requirements that debt collectors must follow. Violations of the FDCPA can be asserted in state or federal court and allow for the awarding of attorneys’ fees and damages.
Prohibited debt collection practices include:
- Harassing and abusive language or conduct
- Using false or misleading information. Includes threats of criminal action, threats of nonjudicial action, impersonation of an attorney, failure to provide accurate information about the debt.
- Adding charges or other fees on top of the principal of the debt.
- Any other unfair, deceptive or abusive practices.
If you have been contacted by a debt collector, call me so that we can evaluate the collection practices as well as develop a plan to challenge the debt so that you do not pay more than you are required to. See the page on debt collection lawsuits.
Unfair Trade and Business Practices
Businesses have to be on the level. When they do things that screw consumers, they may be engaging in unfair trade practices in violation of state and federal law. Connecticut prohibits and allows a legal action for unfair trade practices under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). Such unfair practices include false and misleading advertising, empty guarantees, price manipulation, “bait and switch” and more. The failure of a business to adhere to certain legal requirements regarding refund fees, payment plans and other contractual terms could also be violations of CUTPA.
CUTPA provides for the recovery of actual damages as well as punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. If you think that you were the victim of an unfair business practice, contact me so that we can discuss your situation and determine whether you have a case.
Fraud, Misrepresentation, and Scams
Honesty is the best policy. Unfortunately, some people act dishonestly and deceitful and rip off others. Fraud (or intentional misrepresentation) is the tort in which a defendant makes a false statement to a plaintiff with the intent that the plaintiff acts on it and that the plaintiff does act on it to his or her injury. Negligent misrepresentation is similar to fraud in that a defendant supplied a plaintiff with false information to induce some sort of an action and was careless in obtaining or conveying that information.
These issues arise in many situations in which someone lost money, from straight-up scams to failed business deals.
In some cases, fraud and misrepresentation lead to criminal charges. In most others, it remains a civil matter–the person who was defrauded must sue to recover his or her damages. In these types of cases, a plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages in addition to the money lost.
Fraud, misrepresentation, and contract claims are the common law actions for cases involving deceit and shady business. Additionally some statutory claims (based on state or federal laws) that provide for attorneys’ fees may also be available. If you think you have been ripped off, contact me.