Debt collectors are in the business of making money, and if that means coming after everything you own to get what they think they deserve, they will. In some cases, debt collectors have used threats, fear and coercion in an effort to collect a debt, regardless of whether the debt being collected was legitimate. It has gotten so bad, that the US Congress had to pass the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to protect consumers.
While the FDCPA protects consumers on the federal level, the State of Texas has also found it necessary to create its own consumer protections against unscrupulous debt collectors.
How are Texans protected from debt collectors who threaten, harrass or use coercive means to try and collect debt?
The State of Texas protects consumers from debt collectors under the Texas Finance Code, Title 5, Chapter 392.
What protections does the Texas Finance Code offer?
Under Texas Finance Code, a resident is protect from debt collectors who engage in threats, coercion, harassment, abuse, fraud, deception and unfair or unconscionable collection methods. Some common illegal methods employed by debt collectors include:
- using or threatening to use violence to collect a debt
- falsely accusing the debtor of fraud
- threatening the consumer with arrest
- threatening seizure of assets without proper court proceedings
- using profane or obscene language
- making repeated phone calls and causing a phone to ring repeatedly with the intent to harass the consumer
For a complete overview of prohibited debt collection practices under the Texas Finance Code, click here.
What recourse do I have if a debt collector has broken the law and acted without regard to Texas Finance Code?
Violations of Texas Finance Code are remedied through criminal and civil means.
Criminal: Any violation of Texas Finance Code is a criminal misdemeanor. If a debt collector attempts to collect a debt using illegal means, they can be held criminally liable and may face fines of $100 to $500 for each violation.
Civil: In addition to criminal remedies, action by the consumer can be taken under civil law. Remedies include injunctive relief, monetary damages and attorneys fees.
Deceptive Trade Practice: Any violation of the Texas Finance Code by a debt collector is considered a deceptive trade practice under Texas Business and Commerce code and allows the consumer to also take legal action under this code. Texas Business and Commerce code includes financial remedies that amount to three times the amount of any monetary damages incurred by the consumer.
What should I do if I think a debt collector has broken the law by trying to harass, coerce, deceive or abuse me?
These specific violations are best handled by an attorney that is familiar with Texas Finance Code.
If you believe you have been harassed, coerced, deceived, defrauded or abused by a debt collector, click here and we can assist you with finding a qualified attorney that can help.