Mr. Smith from ABC Collections calls you at 9:15 p.m. on your work cell phone telling you, yet once again, that you owe $172.62 and must satisfy this obligation immediately.
Ms. Jones from United Collections has called you everyday for the past three weeks telling you the following: a) you owe $422.35 and must pay up immediately, b) that United Collections can take money from your bank account or garnish your wages, and c) that your credit will be ruined for life from this one obligation.
Mr. Williams from Debt Resolutions Inc. calls stating that you owe $98.85 to American Utilities, that the bill has been turned over for collection, and that you must immediately pay this obligation in full. You explain to Mr. Williams that this is not your bill. Mr. Williams asks, "How can this not be your bill? Of course it is your bill. Are you some kind of dumb ass who thinks you can go around saying you don't owe money when you do?"
Here are the violations in Example 1:
o That the call took place at 9:15 p.m. Collection agencies may only contact you by telephone between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. local time.
o That the call was placed to your work telephone number IF they have been told not to call you on a work telephone number.
Here are the violations in Example 2:
o Collection agencies may not harass. Calling daily qualifies as harassment.
o Collection agencies must be accurate and truthful -- threatening to take money from your bank account or to garnish wages WITHOUT STATING that they will file suit and obtain a judgment is misrepresentation.
o Stating that your credit will be ruined for life is misrepresentation. Will a collection account damage your credit? Yes -- to some extent. Ruin it for life? Not hardly.
Here are the violations in Example 3:
o Once you state that an obligation is not yours, it is the Collection Agencies responsibility to stop communication and provide you with a validation that the bill is yours. You have the right to dispute this.
o Collection Agencies may not use profanity, act in an abusive manner, or harass -- calling someone a "dumb ass" qualifies as both; the rest of the sentence is abusive.
These are all common examples of the actions taken by employees of collection agencies on a regular basis.
And each is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and YOUR RIGHTS.
The purpose of this article is not to help people avoid paying obligations they have incurred. The purpose is to help people understand that there are regulations collectors must follow and abide by.
The following presents key points within the FDCPA:
o Obligations that fall under the FDCPA include personal, family, and household debts. It DOES NOT cover business related obligations.
o There are some built in limitations on how often a collection agent may contact you and the methods they can use. However, you can limit that even further by providing clear instructions.
o Collectors may not contact third-parties (people other than yourself or your attorney) without your permission or the permission of a court.
o Collectors MUST give you complete, truthful and concise information about the debt: the company the money is owed to, how the debt came to be, and any other information that helps you, the consumer, verify the accuracy of the claim.
o If you dispute an obligation, and the collection agency cannot validate that the obligation is yours, the agency must STOP contacting you.
Debt collectors MAY NOT:
- Harass -- threaten violence or harm, publish your name (except to credit reporting companies), use obscene or profane language, repeatedly use the phone to annoy;
- Make False Statements -- falsely claim that they are attorneys, say you have committed a crime, falsely represent that they work for a credit reporting agency, misrepresent how much is owed, indicate that papers they send you are legal forms when they aren't OR indicate that legal forms are not legal forms;
- Lie -- saying you will be arrested if you don't pay, that they will sieze, garnish, attach, or sell your property unless they are permitted by law to do so, or that they are going to take legal action when they have no intention to do so;
- Give or Send False Information-- to anyone including you and especially credit reporting agencies;
- Use Unfair Practices -- threaten illegal conduct, collect illegal fees, or deposit a post-dated che
Why would communicating with you by post card by a violation of the FDCPA?
Because your business with the collection agency is personal and private -- it is between you and them not your neighbors, the postal carrier, or anyone else.
You control where your payments go. If you owe more than one obligation to a collection agency, you have the right to decide which obligation you are paying and with how much.