Many consumers have their legal rights violated by collectors without even knowing it. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is designed to stop harassing, unfair, and abusive debt collection practices.
Knowing the important details of this act will help you stand up against abusive collection practices and stop collection companies from violating your rights.
There are many requirements debt collectors must abide by per the FDCPA. Debt collectors are not allowed to tell others details about the consumer including that they owe a debt, they cannot communicate with anyone other than the consumer more than once, not communicate through post card or have ANY markings on the outside of their envelope indicating they might be a debt collector.
Basically, collection companies cannot use the fact that they are a debt collector to bully you into paying.
They cannot identify themselves as a debt collector to your employer, and they cannot send things in the mail to identity they are a debt collector with the intent of embarrassing or causing other hardship to you.
Debt collectors are also not allowed to call a consumer at an unusual time or place. This includes before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. A debt collector cannot contact a consumer at their place of employment if they have reason to believe this is prohibited by the employer.
They are also required to immediately cease and desist contact with you if you are represented by and attorney, or if you notify them to do so in writing or notify them that you refuse to pay the debt.
There are many restrictions of abusive and harassing practices in the FDCPA also. Debt collectors are prohibited from using the threat of violence or other criminal means to cause harm to the consumer.
The use of obscene language is prohibited along with the publication of information that the consumer allegedly owes the debt.
Debt collectors cannot cause a consumer’s phone to ring repetitively with the intent to annoy or harass any person. And they have to clearly identify themselves on every phone call.
False and misleading representations are also prohibited per the FDCPA. These include the debt collector identifying themselves as an affiliate of the United States government, misrepresenting the legal status of a debt, or that they are an attorney if they are not.
Your debt collectors cannot falsely represent that the nonpayment could result in the arrest or imprisonment of the consumer or the seizure of their property or garnishment of their wages unless such action is lawful and the debt collector intends on taking that action.
Debt collectors are not allowed to communicate to any person credit information which is known to be untrue or in dispute. They also cannot falsely issue you documentation representing itself as coming from the courts.
They also are prohibited from using any false representation or deceptive means to collect a debt. They must identify themselves to the consumer as a debt collector and that the nature of the call is for that purpose.
Debt collectors are NOT directly affiliated with the credit reporting agencies, and they cannot claim that they are per the FDCPA.
They cannot accept post-dated checks of more than 5 days, or attempt to collect more than what is owed due to the original contract.
They must also send a statement to each consumer within 5 days of contacting the consumer. This letter must contain many things including the amount of the debt, creditor’s name, and many disclosures specific to FTC language.
Any violations within this act can be costly to the debt collector, especially in the civil and class action aspects.