Filing in Small Claims Court for violations of FCRA and FDCPA
I recently came across a website, I won't mention the name, which urges people to file pro se claims in the state small claims court for violations of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
When investigating the website further I see posts on their forum which I strongly believe are not real users. These posts brag about how they used that website's books and videos to "demand" payment from collection agencies and credit reporting agencies and were rewarded with payments of $1000 per violation.
I call the BS rule on this.
First off, $1000 per violation is the maximum amount you can get under those acts and, therefore, why would a company voluntarily pay a person representing themselves the most that they would ever have to pay?
In addition, while you absolutely can file in state court for violations of the FCRA and the FDCPA it is also an automatic removal to federal court if the defendant requests the removal and they ALWAYS request the removal since federal court is much more defendant friendly, particularly if you are pro se.
If you come across websites like those that sound too good to be true…they generally are. In all of the cases I have seen filed by lawyers and pro se litigants, exactly one has settled early and that was for a dismissal of the debt, not for any additional damages.
The internet abounds with stories of people who represent themselves and use the law against companies and their lawyers and it rarely works that way. The chances are extremely good that even if a pro se manages to draft their petition in such a way that it withstands a motion to dismiss, then the person still won't understand enough evidence or understand the rules enough to intimidate the collection agency or the credit reporting agency into settling and paying damages, particularly not the maximum damages possible.