It is most likely a safe bet that no New Jersey consumer is fond of debt collectors. The practices used by debt collection agencies and other creditors bend — if not break — the limits placed on them under the Fair Debt and Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). One woman from the Midwest managed to find a way to stop harassing phone calls from creditors attempting to collect a debt from her that she did not even owe.
She filed a lawsuit against a debt collection agency called Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC for malicious prosecution. Even though she repeatedly told the company that she was not the person who owed the debt, a lawsuit was filed against her. The original lawsuit went on for approximately 15 months before it was dismissed. However, the company threatened to re-file at a later date.
The dismissal coincidentally came only after the Missouri woman filed a counterclaim against the company. After hearing evidence for five days, the jury awarded the woman $250,000 for the company’s violation of the FDCPA and another $82,990,000 in punitive damages. A company spokesperson says it will go back to court to get the award reduced.
Not everyone will be able to stop harassing phone calls from creditors the way this woman did, but New Jersey residents have options. Filing for bankruptcy stops all collection efforts during the duration of the proceedings. In addition, many debts can be discharged in the bankruptcy, which could give consumers the ability to start fresh with a clean financial slate.
Source: 6abc.com, “Debt collector order to pay $83 million to woman after wrongfully suing her“, May 20, 2015