Contributed by The DiGiulio Law Firm, LLC
There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors. Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the high number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy.
It is the purpose of this guide to help consumers to identify and eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors.
What consumers Should Do:
Set up a place to keep all notes or letters from the collection agency. Keep all written material you receive from them, including the envelopes. Make notes of every phone call from the collection agency, including the date, time, content and names of people involved in the conversations. Make notes of the same information if you learn that the collection agency has contacted anyone other than you.
Contact a debtor’s rights attorney if you feel that your rights have been violated.
Are there some communications where debt collector did not indicate they are from a debt collector? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692e(11)
Did the debt collector fail to send the consumer a validation notice within five days of the initial communication, either written or oral? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692g
Does the validation notice fail to contain all the required information, including the current amount of the debt? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692g
Does any demand for payment overshadow, or create confusion about, the disclosure of the consumer rights in the validation notice or demand payment within the first 30 days (demand immediate payment)? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692g
Has the consumer failed to request validation? If so, request validation by certified mail. ______ Yes ______ No
If the consumer made a timely validation request (within the first 30 days of the initial communication from the debt collector), did the collector continue collection activities? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692g
False or Misleading Representations
Does the communication contain a false impression of the character, amount, or legal status of the alleged debt? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692e(2)
Does the communication give the false impression that any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692e(3)
Does the communication threaten to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken (e.g. suit, harm to credit reputation)? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692e(5)
Does the communication give the false impression that the consumer committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692e(7)
Has the debt collector used any other false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the debt collection? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692e(10)
Does the debt collector attempt to collect any amount (including interest, attorney fees, collection costs or expenses) not authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692f(1)
Has the debt collector taken or threatened to unlawfully repossess or disable the consumer’s property?
______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692f(6)
Harassment or Abuse
Has the debt collector used or threatened the use of violence or other criminal means to harm the consumer or his/her property? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692d(1)
Has the debt collector used profane language or other abusive language? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692d(2)
Has the debt collector caused the phone to ring or engaged any person in telephone conversations repeatedly? (The telephone is hung up and collector calls back immediately?) ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692d(5)
Has the debt collector engaged in any other conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of the alleged debt? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692d
Has the debt collector communicated with the consumer after it knows the consumer to be represented by an attorney? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692c(a)(2)
Has the debt collector contacted the consumer’s place of employment when the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits such communications (after the consumer told the debt collector to not call him/her at work)? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692c(a)(3)
Has the debt collector contacted the consumer after the consumer has notified the debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay the debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692c(c)
In communications with persons other than the consumer, has the debt collector stated that the consumer owes any debt? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692b(2)
In communicating with persons other than the consumer, has the debt collector contacted that person more than once (unless requested to do so)? ______ Yes ______ No 15 U.S.C. §1692b(3)
Consult 15 U.S.C. §1692 et al of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for additional violations, or simply visit http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.shtm
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