7 Common FDCPA Violations
Are debt collectors harassing you? This guide will provide you with 7 common FDCPA violations that our clients often experience at the hands of debt collectors. This list is not exhaustive. If you are experiencing similar problems, please contact an experienced consumer protection attorney.
Threatening to take action against you that the debt collector cannot legally takeWhen a debt collector does not own the alleged debt they cannot threaten to sue you in court, as they do not have the legal standing to do so. If you receive a request for payment of an alleged debt that you believe you do not owe, you can challenge the validity of the debt. Furthermore, a debt collector is required to provide you with validation of the debt upon your request. They also cannot threaten to garnish your wages themselves if they do not actually own the alleged debt. Anything a debt collector threatens to do to you, they must actually be able to act on. If not, then they have likely violated the FDCPA and you could be entitled to damages.
Continuing to call you after you have already told the debt collector to stop calling youThere is no law that says you have to communicate with a debt collector by phone. If you hang up on a debt collector there is nothing they can do about it. But, if the collector continues to call you repeatedly even after you have hung up on them, they are in violation of the FDCPA. All you have to do to stop debt collectors from calling you is tell them that you prefer to communicate with them in writing. Written communication works in your favor because it gives you a record of everything that is said. If the debt collector violates the FDCPA, you have hard evidence that could lead to a lawsuit in your favor.
The surest way to stop debt collectors from calling you is by sending what is known as a cease and desist letter. In the letter, state that the collector should cease and desist further communication with you. Note that the cease and desist letter only applies to debt collectors, not the original creditor.
Not providing you with the 'Mini-Miranda' warning required under federal lawIn the first communication with you, the debt collector has to tell you that it is a debt collector, attempting to collect on a debt, and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. These required statements are known as the "Mini-Miranda" throughout the industry. In all communications with you, a debt collector has to tell you that it is a debt collector. If the debt collector does not do so, the debt collector may be violating your rights.
Disclosing your alleged debt to third partiesMany times a debt collector discloses the fact that they are a debt collector, or that they are attempting to collect on a debt, to a third party who is not related to the alleged debt; without your consent. This person could be your friend, a neighbor, your son or daughter, and/or anyone other than your spouse (who they actually can disclose the debt to) who is not responsible for the alleged debt. If a debt collector makes an improper disclosure(s), it is violating your rights.
Lying to youDebt collectors are prohibited from deceiving you while trying to collect a debt. For example, a debt collector may not:
- Falsely claim that the debt collector or its employees are attorneys or government representatives
- Falsely say you have committed a crime
- Falsely say they operate or work for a credit reporting company
- Make false threats, such as arrest
- Lie about the amount you owe
- Lie about documents, saying forms are legal documents when they aren't, for example.
- Lie about how much you owe or to whom you owe the money
- Threaten to garnish your paycheck if it is not allowed in your state
- Threaten to tell your security manager about your debt and have your security clearance revoked
Calling you at inconvenient or inappropriate timesDebt collectors cannot call you at times they know are inconvenient (or should know are inconvenient), such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you specifically agree to it.
Using offensive and verbally abusive language or threaten violenceDebt collectors cannot:
- Use or threaten to use violence
- Harm, or threaten to harm you, another person, or your or another person's reputation or property
- Use obscene, profane, or abusive language