A debt collector who fails to comply with any provision of the FDCPA is liable for
- Any actual damages sustained as a result of that failure
- Punitive damages as allowed by the court:
- In an individual action, up to $1,000
- In a class action, up to $1,000 for each named plaintiff and an award to be divided among all members of the class of an amount up to $500,000 or 1 percent of the debt collector's net worth, whichever is less
- Costs and a reasonable attorney's fee in any such action
In determining punitive damages, the court must consider the nature, frequency, and persistency of the violations and the extent to which they were intentional. In a class action, the court must also consider the resources of the debt collector and the number of persons adversely affected.
A debt collector is not liable for a violation if a preponderance of the evidence shows that the violation was not intentional and was the result of a bona fide error that arose despite procedures reasonably designed to avoid any such error. The collector is also not liable if he or she, in good faith, relied on an advisory opinion of the Federal Trade Commission, even if the ruling is later amended, rescinded, or determined to be invalid for any reason.
Jurisdiction and Statute of Limitations
Action against debt collectors for violations of the FDCPA may be brought in any appropriate U.S. district court or other court of competent jurisdiction. The consumer has one year from the date on which the violation occurred to start such an action.
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