Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Defense
Collecting consumer debt can pose significant challenges for debt collectors separate and apart from collecting upon the debt. Conversations about owed money are never pleasant, and hostile interactions are simply part of being a debt collector. Unfortunately, because debt collectors are bearers of bad news, they are subject to increased risks for lawsuits under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), even when they are doing their jobs.
If receiving payment is the primary goal of a debt collector, ensuring collection practices comply with FDCPA law is perhaps a close second. The FDCPA is a federal law that protects consumer debtors from abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. Debt collectors include any person who regularly collects, or attempts to collect, consumer debts for another person or institution, or someone who uses a name other than its own when collecting its own consumer debts. A debt collector found to have violated FDCPA is potentially subject to significant damages in a class action. Debt collectors may be liable for actual damages or statutory damages up to $1,000 per plaintiff, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages up to $500,000 or 1 percent of the debt collector’s net worth, whichever is less.
When a class action alleging FDCPA violations commences against a debt collector, a strong shield is necessary to defend against the swords. This shield is provided by, among other legal defenses and strategies, the bona fide error defense, which protects debt collectors from liability under FDCPA. To establish a bona fide error defense, a debt collector has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., at least 50.01%) that 1) the FDCPA violation was not intentional; 2) that the FDCPA violation resulted from a bona fide error; and 3) that the business maintains procedures reasonably adapted to avoid such error. FDCPA violations happen, and even the most prudent debt collectors will encounter potential FDCPA violations. The best way for debt collectors to avoid liability for FDCPA violations is to understand the laws and to develop policies and procedures designed to prevent violations. Through sound policymaking and conscientious practices, debt collectors can defend shake downs by consumer lawyers looking to capitalize on unintentional and hyper-technical violations of the statute.
Jimerson Birr offers FDCPA class action defense services to our clients tasked with defending their debt collection practices against alleged FDCPA violations. Our class action litigation experience, coupled with our FDCPA legal expertise, allows us to develop multi-facet defenses for our clients that challenge the procedure and apply the law to the facts. The attorneys at Jimerson Birr have extensive experience defending class actions and are well-equipped to challenge standing and class certification. Our expertise in debt collection, and knowledge of FDCPA law, allows us to help our clients understand FDCPA requirements and recognize the significant facts necessary to fortify defenses. Our attorneys diligently represent our clients throughout the litigation, developing defense strategies unique to their situation, which considers the risks and costs. Although our firm is renowned for our work in a courtroom, we will explore all available pre-trial avenues in line with client objections that may provide cost-efficient resolutions for our clients. However, should a trial be necessary, we are cognizant of the fact that the reputations of our firm and our client are on the line in that courtroom. When Jimerson Birr’s FDCPA defense lawyers are engaged, our clients rest assured knowing that our firm will provide the best possible defense.
Jimerson Birr offers the following FDCPA unique claim and class action defense services:
- Providing defense counsel for clients facing a class action that alleges FDCPA violations
- Helping our clients understand the elements of an alleged FDCPA violation and offering advice on procedural improvements that could prevent future litigation
- Developing a defense strategy that highlights procedural mechanisms employed to ensure FDCPA compliance and support a bona fide error defense
- Utilizing class action litigation strategies to challenge class certification and standing
- Negotiating and facilitating cost-effective resolutions when appropriate
- Trial counsel that challenges the allegations and limits exposure for damages
Jimerson Birr is a premier law firm with a market-leading practice that is tailored to the nuances of the businesses we serve. Our teams have a global perspective and strong Florida roots. Our clients look to us to bring a distinctively high degree of quality, passion and creativity to resolve their FDCPA challenges effectively and cost efficiently.
We’re honored to work with some of the world’s most accomplished organizations and the leaders who drive them. We know that on any given day our clients are confronting competition, corporate advancement, risk management, process and product innovation, resource allocation, efficiency stewardship and talent oversight problems; some days all the above. When our clients place FDCPA class action defense matters with us, they enlist sets of broad shoulders that carry their burdens for them so that they no longer feel their weight. This deep business partnership will give us both an opportunity to be at our best.
We draw on the strength of our character and talents to deliver the best of our firm to every client through true collaboration. On those occasions where our client is concerned it may have erred or is accused of being in the wrong, we help them become right. We don’t confuse effort with results, and we focus on the immutable, allied goals at all times. Partnership with Jimerson Birr on a FDCPA defense matter means that you are not looking in any direction but ahead.