Summary: Virginia debt collection laws protect consumers by regulating actions that creditors and debt collectors can take to collect money owed. Federal law outlines additional protections against unruly debt collectors. If you’ve been sued for debt in Virginia, SoloSuit can help you stand up for your rights and settle your debt before going to court.
In the debt-collection world, creditors use intimidating tactics to exploit a consumer's desperate situation and lack of debt-related knowledge to get their money. If unchecked, debt collectors can instill fear and use their superior position to cause unending stress to consumers.
Fortunately, Virginia’s debt collection laws protect consumers from harassment and intimidation. It also limits when, how, and for how long a creditor can follow up on their debt. The law clearly outlines the penalties debt collectors will experience if caught mistreating consumers.
In this article, we'll explore Virginia debt collection laws and help you prepare to take action when a debt collector violates your rights.
What laws protect consumers from debt collectors in Virginia?
Virginia has laws in place to protect consumers from unprofessional practices by debt collectors. These laws include:
Virginia Consumer Protection Act
The VCPA serves to protect consumers from fraudulent practices committed by suppliers of goods and services. Some prohibited activities include:
Suppliers are prohibited from misrepresenting goods and services as those of another.
Misrepresenting the affiliation or association with the supplier
Misrepresenting the geographic origin of goods
Misrepresenting the quantity, benefits, characteristics, or ingredients of a product
Advertising goods that are second-hand, defective, seconds, or irregular without clearly marking that the goods are not first-class
Making misleading or false statements concerning the reasons for, or amount of, price reductions
Virginia Consumer Finance Act
Consumer finance companies must be licensed by the state of Virginia, undergo a rigorous vetting process, and maintain compliance with the terms of the VCFA.
These laws cover various requirements, such as how a debt collector should communicate and when and how long they can follow up on a debt. Let's look at some specific laws.
Prohibition of deceptive acts
Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-213 prohibits debt collectors from using any type of simulated legal document in an effort to collect a debt. Sending simulated legal documents such as Writs, Warrants, Notice of Liens, or a Notice of Motion for Judgment is a Class IV misdemeanor. Simulated legal documents manipulate information to depict a consumer will encounter untruthful and severe consequences for not paying.
How to disclose debt information
When contacted by a debt collector, it is legally mandated that they provide sufficient debt information prior to any payment considerations. They are also required to respond to any requests for debt validation, such as a Debt Validation Letter, wherein you can request further details about the debt. The information debt collectors are required to share includes:
A breakdown of the debt amount
The original creditor's name
A statement saying you can dispute the debt if you find discrepancies
Another statement indicating they will provide more information about the debt if you require it
The law requires the creditor to respond to the Debt Validation Letter with a written notice within five days of initiating communication. Watch the following video to learn how to make a Debt validation Letter in the following video.
Right to seek remedies and damages
In Virginia, debtors can seek damages and other legal remedies when debt collectors violate their consumer rights (in any of the five categories listed above). You can take action against them by reporting to various consumer protection organizations, including the Federal Trade Commission, or you can file a lawsuit against them.
Virginia debt collection laws allow creditors to garnish your wages, but they can only take 25% of your income after the mandatory deductions. If the debt collector quotes a higher amount, you can file an objection or file for an exemption. The Virginia garnishment law favors consumers, and the courts modify the garnishment order when you present your facts well.
Virginia statute of limitations on unpaid debt
Virginal Code (VA Code § 8.3A-246) protects consumers from being sued for a debt their entire life. It only allows creditors to sue for credit card debt and debts acquired via a written contract for five years. Additionally, they have three years to sue for oral contracts and open accounts debt, while an auto debt collector has four years to file a lawsuit against you. After the time expires, they can only follow up on the debt using other means but not via the court.
The table below further outlines the statute of limitations on debts in Virginia:
How does the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act protect consumers?
The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act is a national debt collection law that controls debt collectors' actions in all states. Virginia borrows heavily from the FDCPA laws and regularly refers to it in some sections. Below, we’ll give you a brief breakdown of some of the rules and regulations that debt collectors must follow under the FDCPA.
Debt collectors cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
If you have an attorney representing you in a debt collection case, debt collectors must only communicate with the attorney.
Debt collectors cannot use profanity, threats, or any type of harassing language to coerce you to pay off a debt.
Debt collectors must disclose who they are and the company they work for each time they contact you.
Debt collectors cannot pretend to be associated with any government or legal enforcement agencies.
Debt collectors cannot lie about who they are, including their abilities to sue you if they cannot or do not play to do so.
Debt collectors cannot discuss your debt with anyone but you, your attorney, your creditor and their attorney, or a consumer reporting agency.
These are some of the most common FDCPA violation, but note that there are dozens of other ways debt collectors can violate the FDCPA in Montana. Plus, it’s important to note that FDCPA also supports state-specific laws, as outlined in § 816:
“This subchapter does not annul, alter, affect, or exempt any person subject to the provisions of this subchapter from complying with the laws of any State with respect to debt collection practices, except to the extent that those laws are inconsistent with any provision of this subchapter, and then only to the extent of the inconsistency. For purposes of this section, a State law is not inconsistent with this subchapter if the protection such law affords any consumer is greater than the protection provided by this subchapter.”
Steps to take after a debt collector violates your rights
As we have seen, debt collection laws allow you to take action against a creditor who violates your rights. The steps to take to ensure you receive fair and just treatment are as follows:
Keep a record of the violation by writing when and how the debt collector contacted you, the language they used, and how they violated your rights.
Next, contact the debt collector, inform them of the violation, and ask them to correct the mistake, or you will take action against them. If they agree, stop the action at this stage. If they ignore your request, proceed to step three.
Dispute the debt if the creditor entered an inaccurate debt on your credit report and any attempts to ask them to correct it have failed to bear fruit.
File a lawsuit against the debt collector if the above methods fail to yield desired results. However, ensure you have evidence to prove your case before a judge or jury.
SoloSuit can help you manage your debt at any stage of the collection process. We have various documents and a wealth of applicable information on our blog and YouTube page to help you stop debt collector’s calls, force a lawsuit out of court, respond to a lawsuit, and settle your debt using SoloSettle. To learn more about how to settle your debt, check out this video:
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.
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