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Washington Collection Laws

You are protected under several federal laws below. Scroll down to learn more about debt collection harassment, robocalls, unauthorized electronic payments, and credit report problems.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA):

The FDCPA has been around since 1977. The FDCPA is a federal law that applies to every state. In other words, everyone is protected by the FDCPA. The FDCPA is essentially a laundry list of what debt collectors can and cannot do while collecting a debt, as well as things debt collectors must do while collecting a debt.

  • Damages:If a collection agency violates any section of the FDCPA, the consumer is entitled to damages up to $1,000.00. Additional damages are warranted in cases where the collector’s collection activities were so egregious the consumer suffered emotional distress. 99% of cases do not involve emotional distress damages.

  • Attorney’s fees: The FDCPA has a fee-shift provision. This means, the collection agency pays the consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs.

  • Debt that is covered by the FDCPA: Only consumer debt, such as personal, family, and household debts. For example, money you owe on a personal credit card, an auto loan, a medical bill, or a utility bill. The FDCPA does not cover debts you incurred to run a business, debts regarding unpaid taxes, or traffic tickets.

  • The FDCPA only applies to 3rd-party debt collectors: The FDCPA defines a debt collector as any person who regularly collects, or attempts to collect, consumer debts for another person or institution. In short, only third-party debt collectors are bound by the FDCPA. That is, original creditors, such as credit card companies and banks are not bound by the FDCPA.

Top FDCPA Violations:

  1. Communicated (phone or letter) with you after you filed for bankruptcy.
  2. Communicated (phone or letter) with you after you told the collector you have a lawyer.
  3. Called you about a debt you do not owe after you informed the collector you do not owe the debt.
  4. Called you at work after you told them you cannot receive such calls at work.
  5. Left you a message without identifying the company’s name.
  6. Left you a message without disclosing that the call is from a debt collector.
  7. Called third parties (family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors) even though the collection agency knows your contact information.
  8. Disclosed to a third party (family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors) that you owe a debt.
  9. Contacted you after you told the collection agency, in writing, to stop contacting you.
  10. Threatened you with legal action (such as a lawsuit or wage garnishment) even though the collection agency does not intend to follow through with its threat.
  11. Called you before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM.
  12. Continued to call you after you have told the collector you cannot pay the debt.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA):

Have you ever received a phone call from an unknown but local phone number? Chances are you have, most everyone of us has, and when you answered the call you were greeted with silence or some pre-recorded message. After a few awkward seconds and repeating yourself to be removed the list, you hang up frustrated by another robot calling your phone. What do they really want, and why don’t they ever stop calling?

Fortunately for consumers, the TCPA, limits the use of automatic dialing systems, prerecorded voice messages, and unsolicited text messages. Passed in 1991, the TCPA allows for damages ranging from $500.00 – $1,500.00 per call or text. In describing the importance of the TCPA, Senator Hollings, the TCPA’s sponsor, said, “I echo Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who wrote 100 years ago that ‘the right to be left alone is the most comprehensive of rights and the one most valued by civilized man.’”

If a company has your permission to place robocalls to you, you can revoke your consent. If robocalls continue after the consumer says stop calling, the consumer has a TCPA case.

Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA):

The EFTA protects electronic payments that are deducted from bank accounts. If a company took unauthorized deductions from your bank account, you may have an EFTA claim. Most collection agencies want to set up re-occurring payments from consumers. Imagine how much money collection agencies gets if hundreds, if not thousands, of consumers electronically pay them $50-$100, or more, per month. If you a consumer agreed to this type of re-occurring payment, the company must follow certain steps to comply with the EFTA. The EFTA allows for statutory damages up to $1,000.00 and actual damages for the payments made. The EFTA also has a fee-shift provision. This means, the company pays the consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

The FCRA works to ensure that no information reported to your credit report is false. In essence, it gives you the right to dispute those inaccuracies that you find on your credit report. Are you one of the 40 million Americans that have a mistake on their credit report? Mistakes on your credit report can be very costly. Along with causing you to pay higher interest rates, you may be denied credit, insurance, a rental home, a loan, or even a job because of these mistakes. Some mistakes may include someone else’s information on your credit report, inaccurate public records, stale collection accounts, or maybe you were a victim of identity theft. If a credit reporting agency violates its obligations under the FCRA, you may be entitled to statutory damages up to $1,000.00, plus the credit reporting agency will be required to fix the error. The FCRA also has a fee-shift provision. This means, the credit reporting agency pays the consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Under the FCRA, you have a legal right to dispute and remove inaccurate information from your credit report. These inaccuracies come in three common forms:

  1. Wrong information – Untrue information such as criminal records, driving records, accounts you did not open, mixed or merged files with someone else’s information (such as a family member or someone with the same name), judgments for lawsuits which didn’t involve you, or debts you did not incur can be permanently removed from your credit report.

  2. Duplicate information – Some accounts or transactions may be listed more than once in your credit report, and it’s helpful to ensure that your report is duplicate-free to avoid appearing to have more debt or credit-related problems than you do.

  3. Old and negative information – Most types of outdated negative credit information, such as foreclosures, judgments, liens, lawsuits, and bankruptcy, can be removed after about seven years.

Submitted Comments

2 years ago
I was contacted by American Legal recovery on behalf of my mother debts via telephone. They kept on asking almost on the daily basis for so many credit cards debts which not have been verified whether some of these debts were part of an identity theft only until I notices that the number of card debts exceed more than 30 credit cards. They also told me that my mother was in a protected R7 and identity fraud program but still keep asking me to pay more debts on behalf of my mother. Also, they accept credit card payments at first then gradually ask me to wire the money via western union and money gram. I wanted to know if they have violated any law while trying to collect my mother debts.
1 year ago
I just got a notice that I have a debt from Nelson Cruz and associates for over $2000 and I have no idea what it’s for but they have called me so many times that I don’t even answer anymore. I’ve been harassed by telephone calls from debt collectors for years now ever since my data, it was leaked on the Internet.
1 year ago
I paid off my student loans that were in collections in 2009. Since then I have received the following from various other student loan collection agencies: *Called you about a debt you do not owe after you informed the collector you do not owe the debt. *Called you at work after you told them you cannot receive such calls at work. *Called third parties (family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors) even though the collection agency knows your contact information. *Disclosed to a third party (family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors) that you owe a debt. *Contacted you after you told the collection agency, in writing, to stop contacting you.
7 months ago
I have been contacted repeatedly by this agency regarding a debt that I do not owe. I submitted an email to the company on June 17, 2023 advising them that I do not owe the debt, to provide any documentation to the contrary, and to cease and desist all contact. The company continues to make efforts to contact me via a robo dialer many times a day. Consider yesterday, November 6, 2023: they started with a call from 913-404-1605 at 6:43 am, another from 385-513-0471 at 7:44 am, and a third from 832-370-2952 at 3:03 pm. Today, November 7, they called at 12:32p, 12:37p, 12:38p, and 1:13p. My previous emails advised MRS of its obligation to provide evidentiary proof of the alleged debt and to cease and desist all contact, as provided under the FDCPA. To date, the company has ignored this request.
7 months ago
On June 6, 2022 I ordered a Lenovo ThinkPad X12 tablet laptop for $734.39. I received the laptop June 10. After testing it, I decided to return the laptop because it was too slow for my needs (AutoCAD). On June 17 . I shipped back for return via USPS using the label generated by eBay. On June 25 I received an email stating that my eBay account was suspended for abusing the buyer policy. I contacted eBay via chat and was informed that the suspension was permanent and irreversible, yet they could not disclose why my account was suspended for fear that I circumvent their policy. I tried to contact eBay repeatedly to dispute the account suspension. I was also informed that because my account was suspended I was not entitled to a refund. On June 27 I contacted my credit card company (Capital One) and disputed the charge. On July 6, 2022 Capital One un-refunded $734.39 with no explanation. On July 11 the return was delivered, and I have a screenshot of the shipping tracking history. Since then I tried to contact eBay numerous times. My account is still suspended and they have not issued a refund. I have no idea how I could have violated their policy. This eBay account is 15+ years old and I\'ve never had an issue. Suddenly they suspended my account and will not even explain why. Do I have any legal options?
3 months ago
I told a collector that I cannot pay the debt in which they are calling. They have refused in the past to state that they are a debt collector before verbally berating me when I have corrected them about my name.
2 months ago
Hi i have recently received a wage garnishment order in the sum of around $650 regarding a debt I did not even know I had from Dynamic Collectors. They claim to have called me multiple times but I have never knowingly received a call from them. I do get calls from random numbers all the time but scams and robocalls are so common I typically do not answer unless I am expecting a phone call. They have never once left a message. They claim to have sent me letters in the mail but I have never once received a letter from them. They claim to have sent me a letter to my house for garnishment but I have never received anything. This was unknown to me until my work received a letter to garnish my wages and then told me about it. So somehow they took me to court to get a garnishment order without telling me and without allowing me to respond and now I\'ve paid $650 for a ticket I didn\'t know I had which was about a third of that amount initially. There was nothing I could do but just pay it. Is there anything that I can do? because none of this sounds fair and that is money that i simply can\'t afford to just throw down the toilet. I appreciate your time