Debt Collector Loses Case But Fails to Recover Fees

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One law which protects members of the general public is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act(“FDCPA”), a Federal law which prohibits a wide variety of harassing and abusive practices by debt collectors. The FDCPA is a powerful tool that our office makes extensive use of in many cases. One clause that debt collectors sometimes try to take advantage of in the FDCPA provides that if they win the case that the consumer may have to pay for the attorney fees of the company they sued. That is a clause that I have never had successfully invoked against one of my clients. While the FDCPA does provide that a consumer may have to pay the fees of the debt collector if they lose the case, the standard for doing so is high, so high that it is very, very hard to reach. In effect the lawsuit brought by the consumer has to be brought in bad faith, such that they should have known at the time it was brought that it was frivolous. I was recently reading a great court opinion about this issue, the case of Anderson v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC(U.S. District Court, E.D. Ill., Case No. 4:15-CV-766. The ruling in Anderson made clear that any consumer who brings a case will not have to pay attorney fees even if they lose so long as the case was not “objectively unreasonable”.