The worst collection offenses are usually committed by third party debt collectors, often referred to as collection agencies. When a debt collector breaks the law he can be sued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law passed by congress in 1977 to eliminate abusive collection practices by debt collectors and to ensure that those debt collectors who use fair and legal tactics to collect debts were not competitively disadvantaged.

But what about the original creditor? The original creditor is the bank or lender who issued your credit card, or gave you an installment or advanced some other type of loan or goods or services on credit. What about harassing calls from Chase, Wells Fargo, Capital One, a retail store, or any other original creditor?

Harassment by original creditors is not covered under the FDCPA. However, in Oregon we have a state law called the Oregon Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Act. (OUDCPA). The OUDCPA is part of the Oregon Unfair Trade Practices Act. Original creditors can be sued under the OUDCPA. Like the FDCPA, in a successful suit, the creditor will pay your attorney fees and costs of filing and pursuing the case.

Unfortunately, the statutory award in an OUDCPA suit is only $200. However, sometimes actual damages beyond this can be shown and awarded, and in the case of egregious (really bad) behavior, punitive (punishing) fines can sometimes be levied on the creditor by the court. Different states have different analogues of this law. The law in California, known as the Rosenthal Act, calls for statutory damages of up to $1000, compared to Oregon’s $200.

Most often when a case is filed it does not go to trial, but is usually settled out of court.