North Carolina law prohibits a collection agency from using threats and coercion to attempt collect debt. If a collection agency does use such threats and coercion, the debtor may file a civil lawsuit to pursue actual damages, such as emotional pain and suffering, as well as, a statutory penalty of anywhere between $500.00 to $4,000.00 per violation. This “per violation” likely does not mean per threat, but it does mean per phone call that contains a threat. The Raleigh attorneys of Maginnis Law are experienced in representing debtors in such civil lawsuits, and we regularly take cases against creditors on a contingency basis, meaning that you pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover money damages for you. To speak with one of our attorneys today, contact the firm at (919) 526-0450 or send a message through our contact page.
A collection agency is defined by North Carolina law to include independent collection agencies that pursue the debts of other companies as well as debt buyers and in-house collection agencies. Such agencies are required to obtain a permit to collect debt within the state of North Carolina. Failure to do so can subject them to criminal and civil liability.
Even permitted collection agencies violate North Carolina law when they “attempt to collect any debt alleged to be due and owing from a consumer by means of any unfair threat, coercion, or attempt to coerce.” The statute, N.C.G.S. § 58-70-95, lists examples of such conduct which includes:
1. Using or threatening to use violence or any illegal means to cause harm to the person, reputation or property of any person;
2. Falsely accusing or threatening to accuse any person of fraud or any crime, or of any conduct that would tend to cause disgrace, contempt or ridicule;
3. Making or threatening to make false accusations to another person, including any credit reporting agency, that a consumer has not paid, or has willfully refused to pay a just debt;
4. Threatening to sell or assign, or to refer to another for collection, the debt of the consumer with an attending representation that the result of such sale, assignment or reference would be that the consumer would lose any defense to the debt or would be subject to harsh, vindictive, or abusive collection attempts;
5. Representing that nonpayment of an alleged debt may result in the arrest of any person;
6. Representing that nonpayment of an alleged debt may result in the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages unless such action is in fact contemplated by the debt collector and permitted by law;
7. Threatening to take any action not in fact taken in the usual course of business, unless it can be shown that such threatened action was actually intended to be taken in the particular case in which the threat was made; and
8. Threatening to take any action not permitted by law.
While the list provided by the statute is extensive, it is not exhaustive. If the collection agency has threatened you with some unlawful conduct or other action it does not intend to take, you may still have a valid unfair debt collection claim. If you believe a collection agency has used threats or coercion in an attempt to collect a debt from you, contact the Raleigh debtor attorneys of Maginnis Law for a free evaluation.
Maginnis Law is a Raleigh law firm focusing in the area of civil litigation. Our firm regularly represents debtors in unfair debt collection cases in and around eastern North Carolina, including: Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Apex, and Fayetteville. To speak with one of our lawyers, call (919) 526-0450. You may submit a confidential email inquiry using our contact page.