Virginia does not have its own statute that protects consumers from deceptive and abusive practices by debt collectors. If you live in Virginia, however, you are protected by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPa protects people who owe money for consumer debts from abusive collection practices. In addition, Virginia makes it a crime for debt collectors to send documents simulating legal process.
The FDCPA protects consumers who owe money to merchants, credit card companies, or others for household debts. It prevents debt collection agencies from using intrusive or deceptive practices when collecting these debts. If a bill collector violates the FDCPA, the debtor can bring a lawsuit seeking damages. (To learn more about the FDCPA, visit our Illegal Debt Collection Practices topic area.)
Keep in mind, however, that the FDCPA does not erase the debt, nor does it restrict the creditor’s options for taking legal action.
Virginia has a criminal statute that prohibits anyone trying to collect a debt from imitating legal process in order to obtain payment. Specifically, under the Virginia Code, someone who sends a debtor any document that simulates any type of warrant, court order, judgment, or lien can be fined up to $250. Because this is a criminal statute, the debtor can report a violation but cannot directly sue the collector for breaking the law.
You can find the full text of the Virginia criminal statute at Va. Code § 18.2-213. (To learn how to find state statutes, visit Nolo’s Legal Research Center.)