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Asserting a Counterclaim Against a Debt Collector for Deceptive Collection Practices in Violation of New Mexico's Unfair Practices Act

The New Mexico Unfair Practices Act was enacted to prevent deceptive business practices, including deception and misrepresentations made by lenders and debt collectors in connection with loans and collections. Under the NMUPA, you are entitled to recover the actual damages that you have incurred as a result of the debt collector's deceptive practices, plus court costs and attorneys' fees.

The New Mexico Attorney General has interpreted the Unfair Practices Act as requiring specific disclosures by debt collectors in connection with collection of time-barred debts. Specifically, when sending a demand letter seeking payment for a debt for which the statute of limitations has already run, a debt collector must provide the following, written disclaimer:

We are required by New Mexico Attorney General to notify you of the following information. This information is not legal advice: This debt may be too old for you to be sued upon in court. If it is too old, you can't be required to pay it through a lawsuit. You can renew the debt and start the time for the filing of a lawsuit against you to collect the debt if you do any of the following: make any payment of the debt; sign a paper in which you admit that you owe the debt or in which you make a new promise to pay; sign a paper in which you give up ("waive") your right to stop the debt collector from suing you in court to collect the debt."

Any false or misleading statement by a debt collector may constitute a violation of the Unfair Practices Act. The particular types of conduct that are prohibited by the Unfair Practices Act are enumerated in the statute as follows: (N. M. S. A. 1978, § 57-12-2)

"unfair or deceptive trade practice" means an act specifically declared unlawful pursuant to the Unfair Practices Act, a false or misleading oral or written statement, visual description or other representation of any kind knowingly made in connection with the sale, lease, rental or loan of goods or services or in the extension of credit or in the collection of debts by a person in the regular course of the person's trade or commerce, that may, tends to or does deceive or mislead any person and includes:
(1) representing goods or services as those of another when the goods or services are not the goods or services of another;
(2) causing confusion or misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval or certification of goods or services;
(3) causing confusion or misunderstanding as to affiliation, connection or association with or certification by another;
(4) using deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services;
(5) representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities that they do not have or that a person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection that the person does not have;
(6) representing that goods are original or new if they are deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, used or secondhand;
(7) representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality or grade or that goods are of a particular style or model if they are of another;
(8) disparaging the goods, services or business of another by false or misleading representations;
(9) offering goods or services with intent not to supply them in the quantity requested by the prospective buyer to the extent of the stock available, unless the purchaser is purchasing for resale;
(10) offering goods or services with intent not to supply reasonable expectable public demand;
(11) making false or misleading statements of fact concerning the price of goods or services, the prices of competitors or one's own price at a past or future time or the reasons for, existence of or amounts of price reduction;
(12) making false or misleading statements of fact for the purpose of obtaining appointments for the demonstration, exhibition or other sales presentation of goods or services;
(13) packaging goods for sale in a container that bears a trademark or trade name identified with goods formerly packaged in the container, without authorization, unless the container is labeled or marked to disclaim a connection between the contents and the trademark or trade name;
(14) using exaggeration, innuendo or ambiguity as to a material fact or failing to state a material fact if doing so deceives or tends to deceive;
(15) stating that a transaction involves rights, remedies or obligations that it does not involve;
(16) stating that services, replacements or repairs are needed if they are not needed;
(17) failing to deliver the quality or quantity of goods or services contracted for; or
(18) violating the Tobacco Escrow Fund Act; and
E. "unconscionable trade practice" means an act or practice in connection with the sale, lease, rental or loan, or in connection with the offering for sale, lease, rental or loan, of any goods or services, including services provided by licensed professionals, or in the extension of credit or in the collection of debts that to a person's detriment:
(1) takes advantage of the lack of knowledge, ability, experience or capacity of a person to a grossly unfair degree; or
(2) results in a gross disparity between the value received by a person and the price paid.