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In reaction to some collection agencies overly aggressive and unsettling collection practices the federal government enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to protect consumers in debt. In Arizona, state laws regarding fair debt collection practices roughly mirror the federal law. In addition to this law, Arizona also has a statute requiring collection agencies to be licensed to practice in Arizona. However, these collection laws apply only to consumer debts, or debts that are incurred for personal, household, or family purposes.
In 2011, the Arizona legislature extended the statute of limitations on credit card debt to six years. After the debtor is first notified of the debt, the statute begins to run. If the creditor or collector takes no legal action within the specified time period, the debt is considered time-barred. After this point, a collection agency can still legally make a request of payment of the debt, but can no longer sue to collect the debt.
Some states require consent from both parties to record a phone call from a collector. However, in Arizona you can record a call from a debt collector without their consent. This may be a good idea so you have a record of what was said for evidence of possible violations.
The FDCPA allows consumers who have suffered a violation of the act to personally sue the collection agency and recover damages of up to $1,000 plus reasonable attorney fees. The Arizona law, however, affords only administrative remedies for violation of the statute. Thus, a collection agency found to be violating the Arizona law (i.e. practicing without a license) may be suspended from practice in Arizona, but this will generally bring no monetary relief to the injured consumer. For this reason, many debtors choose to file under the federal FDCPA.
In any case, an Arizona resident can report any violations to the office of the Arizona Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
If you are in debt and feel you may have been harassed by a collection agency or you want to learn your options for dealing with your debt, contact McCarthy Law for a free consultation with an attorney.