What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
The FDCPA is a federal law that was written to protect you, the consumer, from abusive practices by debt collectors. Please note that the FDCPA typically only applies to debt collectors and not the original holders of your debt, such as a credit card company or a bank.
What Type of Debts Does the FDCPA Apply To?
The law applies to what you would think of as personal debts, such as a car loan, an installment payment plan to a gym, medical bills due to a hospital and your mortgage on your home. It explicitly does not apply to any debts that were accrued for business or agricultural purposes.
Who Is a Debt Collector Under the FDCPA?
A debt collector is defined by the law as any person who regularly collects or attempts to collect debts owed to another person or institution. Importantly, the definition does not include an institution trying to collect a debt under its own name, an institution who sold a debt but still services it (think student loans, typically) or an institution trying to collect on a debt that was not in default when it bought the debt, among others.
What Behaviors Does the FDCPA Prohibit by Collection Agencies?
The FDCPA requires that communication by a collection agency only occur between the hours of 8 A.M. and 9 P.M. and that they may not contact you at your place of employment if they are informed that such calls are not allowed while you are at work. The law also prohibits many specific behaviors by debt collectors to include:
- Threatening violence or other criminal behaviors to harm the debtor’s person, reputation or property
- Using obscene or abusive language
- Publishing a “black list” of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts in a timely fashion
- Advertising a debt for sale to coerce payment
- Repeatedly calling a debtor or letting their phone ring continuously
- Calling without properly identifying themselves
- Making false statements regarding affiliation with the US government
- Making false statements about the nature, character or amount of the debt
- Making false statements about being an attorney or representing an attorney
- Threaten to make false credit statements about the debtor
- Soliciting a post dated check to use as a threat or to bring criminal charges against the debtor
- Contacting the debtor directly if the agency knows the debtor is represented by an attorney
This is not an exhaustive list of prohibited practices but is intended, instead, as a guide to give you an idea of what acts collection agents are not allowed to do. Click here for a full description from the Federal Trade Commission.
What Can an Attorney Do For You Under the FDCPA?
The BLC Law Center has a skilled and experienced staff that can represent you to ensure that the harassing phone calls stop. We know the law and can analyze the debt collector’s actions under the FDCPA and can represent you in court to sue the collection agency for violating your rights. If found in violation, they can be fined up to $1000 and be required to cover attorney’s fees and court costs. Please give us a call at (800) 551-7922 to set up a free consultation today to start protecting your rights.