Know Your Rights

Consumer Sues Department Store Over $20 Debt

When you think about cases under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), the statute enacted to protect consumers from violations occurring when attempting to collect a debt, you most likely think about situations when a collector is calling to collect a debt you do not actually owe.  However, the reality is the FDCPA and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") will also protect you even when you do owe a debt.  These laws still apply in cases when your debt is legitimate and collectors and business must comply with the law even when you owe them money. 

Proving this theory true, a woman is suing a local department store for a debt that she does not dispute is legitimate and only amounts to $20!  In her Federal complaint, this consumer alleges that the department store retailer violated the TCPA and potentially the FDCPA when it called her as many as 22 times in a single week, even after she asked the retailer to stop.  And if this consumer is successful, she could recover as much as $1,500 per phone call received from the department store. 

In late 2013, the consumer alleged that a representative from well-known department store began calling her to collect a $20 debt she held on her store credit card.  When the calls started to come more frequently, she asked the caller to cease all communication.  Instead of the calling ending, she states the calls only got worse.  The consumer alleged that she received over 20 phone calls from a representative of the store in a one week period.  The consumer states that she never gave the store permission to use a robo-calling system when contacting her, which is a violation under the TCPA.  Under the TCPA, a business is prohibited from contacting a consumer using robo-calls unless given express permission, and if a consumer is able to prove the business knowingly used robo-calling when communicating with the consumer, the business could be liable for up to $1,500 per violation.     

Furthermore, the consumer complains that some of the collection calls were placed before 8:00 a.m. and some after 9:00 p.m., conduct that is prohibited under the FDCPA.  Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is restricted from contacting a debtor outside of these hours.  However, the consumer would only have a viable claim under the FCPA if she is able to prove that the party contacting her was a third party debt collector or someone hired to collect the debt on behalf of the department store.   

The bottom line is, consumers need to know their rights under the laws enacted to protect them, 20 plus calls in a week may not raise a red flag to the average consumer that a company has violated the law, but there are laws in place to protect consumers from this type of conduct.

If you believe your rights have been violated under the TCPA or the FDCPA contact SmithMarco P.C. for a completely free case review


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