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1.1.1 Organization of the Treatise

This treatise is designed to help lawyers and paralegals representing consumers who are victims of abusive debt collection practices. It is also widely used by debt collection professionals as a part of their legal compliance effort. Section 1.4, infra, describes how the debt collection industry operates and specialization in the industry.

Chapter 2, infra, details how to prepare a suit for debt collection abuse. Although it is written as an introduction for those new to the area, it also includes useful tips and information for experienced practitioners.

While federal case law is more comprehensively cited, this treatise also contains one of the most complete collections of state debt collection abuse cases in any one source. However, the practitioner must still view this treatise as a starting point for research of local law. For example, a state’s recent tort cases arising out of a non-debt collection context may have more legal significance for a debt collection tort action than an older debt collection decision.

This treatise is divided into three parts followed by extensive appendices listed in the table of contents at the beginning of the treatise. The most active area of law is the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) analyzed in Chapters 3 through 7, infra. When dealing with a debt collection agency or a collection attorney, the broadest liability usually is provided by the federal FDCPA (see Chapters 3 through 7, infra), state statutes (see Chapter 10, infra), and in cases of egregious abuse, tort law (see Chapter 9, infra). When dealing with a creditor the most promising remedies usually are provided by state statutes (see Chapter 10, infra) or, in egregious cases, tort law (see Chapter 9, infra).

Numerous finding aids are provided to help readers locate needed information. These include a summary table of contents, a detailed table of contents, an FDCPA sectional index to FTC informal staff letters (Appendix B), an extensive topical FDCPA case appendix (Appendix J) containing thousands of case summaries, and particularly the subject index at the back of the treatise. At the very back of this treatise is the Quick Reference Index to the entire Consumer Credit and Sales Legal Practice Series. Online search options for the text and companion materials are available at

Two checklists for determining FDCPA compliance are provided at Appendix E, infra.

Sample complaints, discovery and other litigation tools are provided at Appendices F through I, infra, with additional litigation materials available only online at as companion material to this treatise.

A separate treatise by the National Consumer Law Center, Collection Actions (3d ed. 2014), updated at, provides a comprehensive guide to consumer defenses, counterclaims, and other strategies in response to debt collection lawsuits filed against a consumer in court or arbitration.