The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has been around for almost 35 years. The FDCPA is a federal law that applies to every state. In other words, everyone is protected by the FDCPA. Its purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information's accuracy. The FDCPA creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the FDCPA. The FDCPA is essentially a laundry list of what debt collects can and cannot do while collecting a debt, as well as things debt collectors must do while collecting a debt.
What Practices Are Off Limits For Debt Collectors?
False statements: Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
- Falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives,
- Falsely claim that you have committed a crime,
- Falsely represent that they work for a credit reporting company,
- Misrepresent the amount of money you owe,
- Indicate that papers they send you are legal forms if they are not, or
- Indicate that papers they send to you are not legal forms if they are.
Debt collectors also are prohibited from saying that:
- You will be arrested if you do not pay your debt,
- They will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless they are permitted by law to take the action and intend to do so, or
- Legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal, or if they do not intend to take the action.
Debt collectors may not:
- Give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company,
- Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency if it is not, or
- Use a false company name.
Unfair practices: Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
- Try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt–or your state law–allows the charge,
- Deposit a post-dated check early, or
- Take or threaten to take your property unless it can be done legally.
If a collection agency has harassed you over a debt, whether they called you excessively, threatened you, called you at work despite knowing you cannot receive these type of calls at work, disclosed your debt to a third party, tried to collect a debt from you that you did not owe, or left you a voicemail message without the proper disclosures, contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC, for a free case evaluation. A debt collector who fails to comply with any provision of the FDCPA is responsible for any actual damages sustained, punitive damages, and statutory damages up to $1,000.00. Plus, the FDCPA has a fee-shift provision. This means, the collection agency pays your attorney’s fees and costs. Founding attorney, Michael Agruss, has settled over 1,500 debt collection harassment cases. Now, Agruss Law Firm, LLC, wants to help you, too.