Georgia Fair Debt Collection Laws

The Georgia Installment Loan Act regulates the collection of consumer loans that are $3,000 or less.

Updated by , Attorney

Georgia laws protect consumers from abusive or overreaching debt collection tactics. One of those laws, the Georgia Installment Loan Act, applies to installment loans that are $3,000 or less, including the renewal or refinancing of any such loan, with a loan length of 36 months and 15 days or less. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-3, § 7-3-11).

Consumer Protections Under the Georgia Installment Loan Act

Again, finance companies and loan companies that make consumer loans of $3,000 or less and meet certain conditions must comply with the Georgia Installment Loan Act. Entities that make such loans are required to be licensed by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-4).

How to Find Out If an Installment Lender Is Licensed

To verify that an installment lender is authorized to operate in Georgia, go to the NMLS Consumer Access website, a free service for consumers to confirm that the financial-services company or professional with whom they wish to conduct business is authorized in their state. If you think you're dealing with an entity offering installment loans in Georgia that isn't listed as a licensed entity through NMLS Consumer Access, report the entity to [email protected].

How the Georgia Installment Loan Act Protects Consumers

The Georgia Installment Loan Act protects consumers in a few different ways.

  • To reiterate, it requires a license to make consumer loans of $3,000 or less. The law exempts certain parties, including banks, trust companies, real estate or mortgage companies, and the University System of Georgia, from the license requirement. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-4).
  • The law limits the amount of fees, interest, and late charges that may be charged to the consumer. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-4, § 7-3-11).
  • The borrower is entitled to a written itemized statement showing the date and amount of the loan. In addition, the statement must show, among other things, the schedule of payments, the type of security for the loan, the actual cash advanced to the borrower, and the amount of interest and fees. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-15).
  • The creditor must follow proper procedures when extending the debt and may not resort to abusive debt collection practices. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-33).

Prohibited Debt Collection Activities Under the Georgia Installment Loan Act

The Georgia Installment Loan Act prohibits the willful use of any unreasonable collection tactics. Unreasonable collection tactics include, but aren't limited to, any conduct which:

  • causes the borrower or any member of the borrower's family to suffer bodily injury or physical harm
  • constitutes a willful or intentional trespass by force of the borrower's home or personal property without process of law
  • holds up the borrower to public ridicule or unreasonably degrades the borrower in the presence of neighbors or business associates
  • involves the use of printed material which simulates or resembles a summons, warrant, or other legal process, or
  • although otherwise lawful, occurs at an unreasonable hour of the night. Attempts to make collections by means of personal visits, telephone calls, and the like are considered occurring at an unreasonable hour of the night if they happen between 10:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-33).

What You Can Do About Georgia Installment Loan Act Violations

If you think that a lender, debt collector, or collection agency has violated the Georgia Installment Loan Act, you have several options.

File a Complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

If you have had an issue with a licensed installment lender or debt collector in Georgia, you should first reach out to the company to resolve the matter. But if you aren't able to resolve the issue directly, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). After you submit a complaint, the CFPB will work to get you a response, typically within 15 days.

Report the Lender to the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance

You can also report an issue to the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance by sending a detailed email and supporting documentation to [email protected]. The Department isn't authorized to resolve disputes between consumers and installment lenders but might use information in its regulatory process. The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance can investigate complaints and may take disciplinary or legal action against a company or person for violations of the Georgia Installment Loan Act. For instance, the Department may suspend or revoke the lender's business license for unreasonable collection tactics. The Department may also issue a cease and desist order for unauthorized activities. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-40, § 7-3-45). (For more information about the Georgia Installment Loan Act and the Department of Banking and Finance's relationship to this law, visit the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance's Installment Loan page. )

A lender may even be found criminally liable for violating the Georgia Installment Loan Act. If the lender knowingly and willfully violated the law with an intent to defraud the borrower, the court may find the lender guilty of a misdemeanor and declare the loan null and void. Also, any person, including the executive officers, directors, trustees, owners, agents, and employees of such person, that willfully makes installment loans without a license or an exemption is guilty of a felony. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-50).

Bring a Civil Lawsuit

You can file a lawsuit against an installment lender that violates the Georgia Installment Loan Act. If you win, you can get twice the amount of the interest and loan fees you paid but no less than $100. (Ga. Code Ann. § 7-3-50). If you need help filing a lawsuit, talk to a lawyer.

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