Summary: Colorado has several laws that protect consumers from abusive debt collectors, including the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (CFDCPA). SoloSuit explains what to know about debt collection laws in Colorado and how to respond to a debt lawsuit there.
When you check your mailbox, you’re hoping for a tax refund, your latest subscription box, or a magazine from your favorite company. A debt collection notice definitely won’t make your day, and it might instantly turn your good mood into a bad one.
Unfortunately, you can’t stop a debt collector from purchasing debt from your original creditor, especially if you’re behind on payments. However, you have rights that protect you from a debt collector’s abusive actions.
If a collection agency is chasing you for an old obligation, it’s smart to brush up on the debt collection laws in Colorado so that you know how to protect yourself.
Colorado has a major state law protecting consumers from nefarious collection agencies
All states must adopt the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a set of federal regulations that protect consumers from deceptive collection agencies. However, Colorado residents have additional protections under the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (CFDCPA).
Under C.R.S.A. § 5-16-105, debt collectors cannot contact consumers at odd hours, like before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. If the collection agency knows a Colorado consumer has hired an attorney to represent them, all communication must go through the attorney unless the attorney fails to respond in a reasonable period.
Collection agencies that are aware that the consumer’s employer does not want them calling the workplace must cease contacting them through their work phone number in Colorado.
In addition, collectors cannot communicate with people other than the consumer, their attorney, or a consumer reporting agency concerning the debt. An exception occurs if the collection agency is trying to confirm the consumer's location. However, the debt collector cannot tell the other party that their call concerns an outstanding obligation.
C.R.S.A. § 5-16-106 prohibits debt collectors from harassing or abusing consumers when trying to collect a debt. Debt collectors cannot take any of the following actions:
Use the threat of violence to make a consumer pay a debt.
Threaten to destroy the reputation of someone who doesn’t pay a debt.
Use profane language when contacting a consumer regarding a debt.
Call someone repeatedly with the intent to harass them into paying a debt.
Fail to disclose their identity within 60 seconds of reaching the debtor.
Colorado law protects consumers from deceptive and misleading practices from a debt collector under C.R.S.A. § 5-16-107. Specific actions that the law bans include:
Implying that the debt collector is with the government or a government agency.
Telling the consumer they owe an amount different from their actual account balance.
Advising the consumer that the debt isn’t time-barred, even when it is.
Claiming to be a lawyer when they’re not.
Telling the consumer they’ll seize their house, bank account, or other asset if they don’t repay a bill when they don’t have the legal right to do so.
Implying or telling the consumer that they are committing a crime by not paying their debt.
The CFDCPA protects consumers from unfair practices under C.R.S.A. § 5-16-108. Specifically, debt collectors cannot:
Deposit a postdated check before the check’s written date.
Threaten to take property the collection agency doesn’t have a legal right to.
Use a postcard to communicate with a consumer concerning a debt.
Report adverse information to a consumer reporting agency less than 30 days after initially mailing information concerning the account to the debtor.
The CFDCPA closely mirrors the FDCPA. However, it provides additional protections for consumers living in Colorado.
You should request a Debt Validation if you receive a collection notice from a collection agency
Under C.R.S.A. § 5-16-109, debt collectors must provide consumers with specific written information within five days of contacting them concerning a debt. They must include the following details:
The total amount the consumer owes.
The name of the original creditor.
A statement explaining that the collection agency will assume the debt is valid unless the consumer files a dispute on the account within 30 days.
A statement explaining that if the consumer requests a Debt Validation, the collection agency will obtain proof of the debt and mail it to the consumer.
If a consumer requests Debt Validation and the collection agency does not provide it, it must stop its collection efforts.
It’s important to note that failing to dispute the debt does not mean the creditor admits liability for the debt. Thus, if you haven’t disputed the debt, that doesn’t mean you automatically owe it.
Watch SoloSuit explain the steps to creating a Debt Validation Letter in this short video:
Violating the CFDCPA can result in steep fines and penalties
Debt collectors who violate the provisions of the CFDCPA may be subject to penalties. C.R.S.A. § 5-6-113 allows consumers to sue collection agencies for any damage they sustain due to violations of the CFDCPA. The court may charge an additional fine of up to $1,000 per violation.
The CFDCPA states that plaintiffs cannot combine the CFDCPA and the FDCPA to seek double damages from the collection agency. Plaintiffs can seek damages under either the CFDCPA or the FDCPA, but not both.
Let’s consider an example.
Example: Trisha receives a debt collection notice from Sandy Debts. Sandy Debts is pursuing Trisha for a $750 medical bill she didn’t pay. Trisha requests a Debt Validation, but Sandy Debts doesn’t respond. However, it continues to call and harass Trisha at all times of the day, frequently waking her up from sleep. Trisha decides to sue Sandy Debts under the CFDCPA. She proves that Sandy Debts violated the CFDCPA 19 times, and the judge awards Trisha $10,000 in damages, plus attorney’s fees. The judge also fines Sandy Debts $19,000 for these violations.
The CFDCPA protects Colorado residents from abusive debt collectors
The CFDCPA establishes a set of laws that collection agencies must follow when trying to collect money from debtors who live in Colorado. The CFDCPA closely aligns with the FDCPA. If you feel a collection agency is violating your rights, file a complaint against it with the Colorado Attorney General and the FTC.
You have 21 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Colorado, and if you don’t, you run the risk of losing your case automatically by default judgment. If the court grants a default judgment, your creditor or debt collector may be given rights to garnish your wages, seize your property and even freeze your bank account.
In order to respond to your Colorado debt lawsuit, you must draft and file a written response known as an Answer. In your Answer, you should respond to each claim against you and assert your affirmative defenses. SoloSuit’s software makes it easy to draft and file an Answer that is customized to your case — all in a matter of minutes.
You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.
SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.
And 50% of our customers' cases have been dismissed in the past.
"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather