A short guide to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and your rights under this federal law.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, often referred to as the "FDCPA", was passed by Congress in response to abusive conduct by collection agencies. The purpose of the Act is to provide guidelines for collection agencies which are seeking to collect legitimate debts, while also providing protections and remedies for consumers who are subjected to harassment. The FDCPA applies to personal, family, and household debts, including debts associated with the purchase of a car, for medical care, for retail financing, for first and second mortgages, and for money owed on credit card accounts. The law regulates the collection of debts associated with the purchase of a car, medical care, retail financing, mortgages, as well as money owed on credit card accounts.
Debt Collectors are Not Allowed to:
- Take any actions against you that are deceptive, fraudulent, or designed to harass or intimidate you.
- Make repeated telephone calls or call at unreasonable times (Before 8am or After 9pm).
- Send you letters which appear to have come from a court.
- Make false representations in association with efforts to collect the debt.
- Seek collection fees or interest charges not permitted by your contract or by state law.
- Threaten you with arrest if you do not pay the debt.
- Communicate with anyone other than you regarding your debt, or give out any information to a third party.
- Call you at your job if you advise them that this is inconvenient or unacceptable.
- and many many more...
How Does this Benefit You, the Consumer?
You are entitled to a money award of up to $1,000, per account with violations by the collection agent. This means you can get $1,000.00 if a debt collector harasses you. More importantly you are entitled to your attorney fees paid. This is sometimes an even greater amount than your statutory award of $1,000.00. Therefore, if you think you may have a case but cannot afford an attorney, you may be able to find an attorney who handles this type of work, like my law firm, who will not charge you any fees and instead simply collect their fee from the debt collector upon settlement.
What to Do when Debt Collectors Call
What should you do to help your case? 1. Record the phone calls. 2. Keep notes regarding phone calls received from debt collections. 3. Save and keep any and all letters from Debt Collectors. 4. Take the following notes about the call:
Who did you talk to? What Collection Agency are they calling from? What time and date did they call? What did they say? Were you insulted or intimidated? - Finally, request debt validation in writing within the 30 days after the debt collectors first communication and also in writing request the debt collector to stop calling. (if they continue to call these are violations.)