If you live in Georgia, there are laws to protect you from abusive or overreaching debt collection tactics. One of those laws, the Georgia Industrial Loan Act (Georgia ILA), applies to consumer loans less than $3,000 with a loan length less than 36 months and 15 days. This law offers protection in addition to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
This article explains this specific debt collection law for people who live in Georgia and what you can do if a debt collector violates the law.
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 debts. (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.
State debt collection laws are enacted to provide the consumer with additional protections that extend beyond the FDCPA. Georgia has enacted the Georgia Industrial Loan Act which applies only to loans or advances of money of $3,000 or less. For loans in excess of $3,000 or for consumer credit other than cash loans, the federal FDCPA applies.
The Georgia Industrial Loan Act protects consumers in a few different ways.
The Georgia ILA seeks to curb abusive debt collection practices. Specifically the debt collector may not:
Harm or Threaten to Use Violence
Harass or Embarrass the Debtor
Make False or Misleading Representations to the Debtor
Engage in Unfair Debt Collection Practices
If you feel that a debt collector or collection agency has violated the Georgia ILA, you have several options.
File a complaint with the Georgia Industrial Loan Commissioner. The Georgia Industrial Loan Commissioner is empowered to investigate complaints and may take disciplinary or legal action for violations of the Georgia Industrial Loan Act. For instance, the Industrial Loan Commissioner may suspend or revoke the lender's business license for unreasonable collection tactics. The Industrial Loan Commissioner may also levy fines for violations of the Industrial Loan Act.
A lender may even be found criminally liable for violating the Georgia ILA. If the lender knowingly and willfully violated the Georgia ILA with an intent to defraud the borrower, the court may find the lender guilty of a misdemeanor and declare the loan null and void.
Bring a civil lawsuit. You can sue the creditor, debt collector, or collection agency that intentionally violates the Georgia Industrial Loan Act. If you win, you can get twice the amount of the interest and loan fees (but no less than $100).
The Georgia Industrial Loan Act does not permit class action lawsuits and any violations of the Georgia Industrial Loan Act must be brought only as an individual action.
The full text of the Georgia Industrial Loan Act is located at Georgia Code Ann. § § 7-3-1 to 7-3-29. Further administrative rules and regulations implementing the Georgia Industrial Loan Act can be found at Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. § § 120-1-14-.01 to 120-1-14-.25. (To learn how to find state statutes, visit Nolo's Legal Research Center.)