Congress enacted the FDCPA, or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in 1978 as a way to regulate third party debt collection. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) are responsible for overseeing and enforcing the FDCPA. Each year, thousands of consumers file complaints alleging they’ve been the victim of unethical debt collection.
While the FDCPA is a federal statute, there are also state laws that govern debt collection. If you’re an attorney with the ability to handle FDCPA cases in different states, you may want to consider expanding your practice to additional consumer-friendly states. Below are a few examples of states with consumer laws that expand the general purview of the FDCPA.
Georgia has its own debt collection statute, known as the “Georgia Industrial Loan Act” The Act protects all consumers who’ve received a loan of $3,000 or less. Under the ILA, debt collectors are banned from engaging in abusive behaviors. Some activities that are outlined as illegal in Georgia include causing the consumer to incur additional fees (such as calling a consumer long-distance or creating texting fees), or publishing the debtor’s name on a list of “deadbeat” consumers.
While Texas does not have its own Act, it does prohibit additional debt collection practices under state law. In 1997 Texas passed additional consumer laws that make it illegal for a third-party debt collector to conceal its identity. Additionally, a third-party debt collector must make all of its business names known to consumers. It is illegal for a debt collector in Texas to “do business” as another entity with the hope of confusing a consumer.
California passed the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (RFDCPA) around the same time that the FDCPA was enacted. The main difference between the FDCPA and RFDCPA is that the Rosenthal Act holds original creditors under the same guidelines that third party debt collectors are held under in the FDCPA. Put simply, the scope of the term “debt collector” is expanded under the California statute.
With a larger pool of collectors that could potentially violate the RFDCPA as opposed to the FDCPA, California is a perfect place for any consumer law firm.
Similar to California, Florida passed the Florida Consumer Collection Protection Act (FCCPA). This statute also allows for original creditors to be held liable under similar guidelines as the FDCPA.
Another notable difference in the FCCPA is that consumers can seek uncapped punitive damages, whereas the FDCPA caps damages at $1,000 per claim (not including any compensatory damages incurred and attorney’s fees).
As with California and Florida, Maryland also offers debtors recourse against unethical original creditors, which the FDCPA does not offer.
While the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (MCDCA) does not explicitly allow the consumer to seek punitive damages, it does offer the ability to sue for inflicted damages due to a creditor deliberately disclosing false information. Additionally, it is illegal for debt collectors in Maryland to so much as threaten to contact unrelated third parties regarding a debt under the MCDCA..
Here is a complete list of states where the FDCPA also applies to original creditors:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Expanding your firm to new states can be difficult. Establishing co-counsel in these states, accounting for possible travel expenses, etc. are all potential hurdles to growing your consumer practice.
Marketing your firm in a state that is unfamiliar with your brand can also present obstacles. Luckily, eGenerationMarketing offers your firm the ability to tap in to a national advertising effort. By optimizing a network of consumer-facing websites, we connect potential claimants throughout the country with law firms in their area through pay-per-click advertising and organic search efforts.
Using a lead generation company such as eGeneration allows firms to skip the costly overhead associated with hiring a full time marketing manager. As compared to other marketing options available to attorneys, lead generation also allows firms to instantly start receiving inquires from claimants rather than sinking time and money in to building an online presence. If you’re interested in pricing and other details associated with our FDCPA leads, please contact our office at 617.800.0089.