In Arizona, both the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and state law regulate debt collectors. The FDCPA applies to every state, and it protects consumers from unfair and deceptive debt collection practices. The FDCPA also prohibits debt collectors from contacting you at certain times and places. Likewise, Arizona law prohibits debt collectors from engaging in a range of deceptive and intrusive tactics when collecting money on behalf of a creditor. Arizona also requires collection agencies to be licensed.
While the Arizona law is similar to the FDCPA, the Arizona law is a criminal statute, unlike the FDCPA, so it doesn't allow individuals to sue collection agencies for violating the law.
Arizona law defines a "collection agency" as someone who is "engaged" in collecting debts, including anyone who collects debts occurring in the operation of the person's own business but collects payments from customers under a different name. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1001). Some parties are exempt from certain parts of the law, like attorneys, banks, real estate brokers, and title companies. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1004).
Arizona law also requires that collection agencies be licensed and provide a bond. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1021, § 32-1055). And collection agencies must "deal openly, fairly, and honestly" in conducting their business. Licensees may not "engage in any unfair or misleading practices." In addition, the law forbids "oppressive, vindictive, or illegal" collection methods. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1051).
Arizona law prohibits the following specific practices, among other things.
Violation of the Arizona debt collection statute is a class 1 misdemeanor. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1056). So, any debtor who's been victimized by a collection agency can report a violation of the statute to the local city or county prosecutor. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1057).
But you can't directly sue a debt collector for breaking the law. Keep in mind, though, that because the federal FDCPA applies in Arizona, you may still sue for money damages under that federal statute (see below).
You can also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) if you have an issue with an Arizona debt collector. After you submit a complaint, the CFPB will work to get you a response, typically within 15 days.
If a debt collector uses abusive or deceptive collection behavior, you might also be able to file a lawsuit under the federal FDCPA. Be aware, though, that FDCPA violations don't eliminate the debt, nor do they restrict the creditor's options for taking legal action.
If you need help initiating a lawsuit, talk to a debt relief lawyer.