|Received:||10/17/2007 5:52:45 PM|
|Organization:||Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C.|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
|Rule:||Debt Collection Workshop|
Comments:I am an attorney licensed to practice in Texas, and we devote a significant portion of our practice to representing consumers who are harassed by debt collectors. Our firm litigates few cases based upon legal violations in collection letters. Instead, the vast majority of our cases involve telephone and/or in-person harassment by debt collectors. I find that many consumers relate the same facts regarding abusive collection tactics. Consumers complain of threats of wage garnishment (prohibited for collection of most consumer debts in Texas) and arrest. We commonly see cases in which a consumer is harassed at work, through repeated back-to-back calls and disclosure of private information to consumers' co-workers. Some collectors also consistently engage in the practice of contacting consumers' neighbors, not to obtain location information for such consumers, but rather to embarass and harass consumers. The FDCPA is a great tool for consumers' lawyers, but it is insufficient to address all ills present in the collection industry. The maximum one-thousand dollars ($1,000.00) in statutory damages is too low in light of today's economy. Further, the FDCPA does not generally provide a cause of action against abusive original creditors. It is for these reasons, and others, that state consumer protection laws are important. Texas law, for example, allows a consumer to sue an abusive original creditor. It also generally requires consumer collection agencies to be bonded. It would not be in the best interest of consumers for the FDCPA to preempt state law. Congress should consider amending the FDCPA to increase the maximum amount of statutory damages and to provide protection from harassment by original creditors. Such an amendment would provide consumers much-needed and overdue protection and assist in holding accountable those who choose to violate the law.