Connecticut law provides protection to consumers from certain types of abusive, deceptive, and misleading debt collection tactics. The Creditor’s Collection Practices Act provides protection against unfair debt collection by creditors. The Consumer Collection Agency laws prohibit debt collectors from using abusive and unfair collection tactics. Both laws supplement the protections provided by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Read on to learn what these Connecticut laws prohibit, who is covered by the laws, and what you can do if your rights are violated under these laws.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that sets limits on what bill collectors can do in attempting to get you to pay a debt. The FDCPA prevents debt collectors from talking to third parties about your debt, calling you at work, and engaging in other tactics designed to harass, abuse, or mislead you into paying a debt. The FDCPA only applies to debt collectors and third party debt buyers—it does not cover collection activities performed by an original creditor. (To learn more about the FDCPA, see Nolo's Illegal Debt Collection Practicestopic area.
Connecticut has enacted additional laws that supplement the FDCPA and may provide you more protection if you live in this state.
Connecticut's Laws Governing Debt Collection
Connecticut has two sets of consumer debt collection laws.
- The Creditor's Collection Practices Act (CCPA) governs collection practices by creditors.
- The Consumer Collection Agencies (CCA) laws regulate practices by debt collectors, supplementing the FDCPA.
Both laws guard against a wider range of debt collection tactics and provide additional remedies than what the FDCPA alone provides.
The Creditor’s Collection Practices Act (CCPA)
The CCPA specifically covers original creditors, not debt collection agencies. The CCPA is designed to provide the same protections given by the FDCP covering debt collectors.
Practices Prohibited by the CCPA
The CCPA prohibits creditors from engaging in abusive, harassing, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading practices. In that regard, it practically mirrors what the FDCPA states that debt collectors cannot do.
Some things that creditors cannot do under the CCPA include:
- contacting third parties about your debt
- threatening to repossess your car, levy your property or garnish your wages if they do not really intend to do so at that time, or if they cannot legally do so (for example, the statute of limitations has expired or your property is exempt from attachment)
- filing a lawsuit against you in the wrong venue (suing you in a distant court to make it difficult for you to defend the lawsuit), and
- knowingly hiring an unlicensed CCA to collect a debt in Connecticut.
If the Creditor Violates the CCPA – Lawsuits and Remedies
As of July 2007, you have a private cause of action if a creditor harms you in violation of the CCPA. This means that you can file a lawsuit in Connecticut against the creditor for damages. If you win, the court may award to you:
- actual damages
- additional damages of up to $1000, and
- attorney’s fees and court costs.
The Consumer Collection Agency Laws (CCA)
The CCA covers debt collectors. This includes:
- debt collection agencies
- private collectors of city income taxes
- debt collectors that engage in deceptive or false assignments of debt accounts to hide from coverage by the CCPA
- creditors using fictitious names, and
- collectors of child support debts, if they are not attorneys.
The following persons or entities are exempt from the CCA:
- attorneys (unlike the FDCPA)
- individual employees of debt collectors (unlike the FDCPA, in some circuits)
- loan servicers, and
- public employees and officers collecting government debts.
Activities Prohibited by the CCA
The CCA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in any unfair or deceptive act or practice. Some things that a debt collector cannot do include:
- collecting or filing a lawsuit against you on a charged-off debt that they purchased or received from your original creditor
- mailing you a postcard or other document that contains language or symbols that suggest you owe a debt
- holding themselves out as attorneys, or engaging in the unauthorized practice of law by giving you legal advice
- lying or misrepresenting to you that an attorney is involved (this is also a potential violation of the FDCPA), and
- adding collection fees in excess of what you would have to pay under Connecticut law for that particular debt (example, charging you more than $10 “per delinquency” on a car loan).
If A Debt Collector Violates the CCA
The CCA does not give provide a private cause of action to consumers who have been harmed by a debt collector’s violations of the CCA. This means you cannot bring a lawsuit under the CCA.
Enforcement of the CCA is left to the Connecticut Department of Banking and the Connecticut Attorney General. Both agencies have the authority to investigate claims and enforce the. The debt collector may be subject to criminal sanctions, including up to $1,000 in fines and one year imprisonment.
How to Report CCA Violations
If you have a potential claim against a debt collector under the CCA, you can contact the Department of Banking to make a consumer claim by visiting its consumer webpage at www.ct.gov/dob and clicking on “File a Complaint.”
Suing Under the FDCPA
You may also still have a private right of action against the debt collector for violation of the FDCPA. For more information, visit Nolo's Illegal Debt Collection Practices topic area.
Regulation of Debt Collectors
Debt collectors must be licensed as a “consumer collection agency” in the state of Connecticut. The CCA requires debt collectors to uphold certain professional standards. A debt collector can lose its license if it violates the CCA or commits a misdemeanor or felony involving their debt collection business. If an unlicensed debt collector tries to collect from you, it may be in violation of both the CCA and the FDCPA.
Getting More Information
For more details on what the CCPA does and does not cover, you can read the Connecticut Creditor's Collection Practices Act (“CCPA”), General Statutes § 36a–645 to 36a-648 (covering creditors), and Connecticut Collection Agencies§ 36a–800 to 36a-810 (covering debt collectors). To learn how to find state statutes, visit Nolo’s Legal Research Center.
You can also find more information on the Connecticut Department of Banking’s website at www.ct.gov/dob.