What Is the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act?

When ends don’t meet and you fall into debt, you may face the unwelcome experience of creditor harassment from debt collectors. These are generally collection agencies that are third-party collectors, in other words, not the original party to whom you accrued the debt. Creditor harassment can come in many forms from these companies, including frequent phone calls to threatening language. This type of bill collector behavior can be annoying, overwhelming, and can add further stress to a difficult situation. It can also make you feel helpless, especially should you, in fact, owe the debt with little means to pay it.

Understanding your rights as a debtor is very valuable at this point as you are protected by federal law from certain negative behaviors by collection agencies. That federal law is the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) that went into effect in 1978. The law was written to protect debtors from abusive, unfair, and deceptive practices used by these agencies. An example of a violation of this act: you receive daily phone calls from an intimidating voice telling you that you owe them for a past-due credit card debt and that if you don’t pay, you will be sued and arrested.

Are you in severe debt with little hope of finding a way out? Turn to Busch, Reed, Jones & Leeper, P.C. for debt relief solutions. Call us at (770) 629-0154 for a consultation.

What Actions Are Prohibited by the FDCPA?

Under the FDCPA, third-party debt collectors must identify themselves when contacting you. They must also identify the debt you owe and follow up with a written notice about the debt. The notice must state what is owed, to whom it is owed, and what to do if you believe that it is not your debt. They are not allowed to make demands for debts that are contractually illegal, such as attempting to collect more than what you actually owe and justifying this with excessive fees, interest, or expenses.

They are also prohibited from contacting you at inconvenient times. This means contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

Other restrictions include but are not limited to:

  • They cannot use abusive or profane language
  • They cannot contact you once you tell them to cease doing so in writing (however, if you actually do owe the debt, they can proceed with legal action to have your wages garnished)
  • They cannot contact you at work if you tell them not to
  • They cannot call your friends, relatives, neighbors, or co-workers to discuss your debt; they can make one phone call to these parties to try to discover a way to contact you but they cannot tell them that they are calling because you have a delinquent debt
  • They cannot try to deceive you by pretending to be someone else, such as law enforcement, an attorney, or a credit reporting bureau
  • They can only communicate about the debt to your attorney once you hire one
  • They cannot threaten you with actions they themselves cannot take, such as arrests or wage garnishment that can only be obtained legally through court orders
  • They cannot send you misleading paperwork, such as phony documents that appear to be from courts or government officials
  • They cannot threaten to harm you or anyone close to you or threaten to harm your reputation in an attempt to get you to pay
  • They cannot publish lists of debtors or put your debt up for sale to the public
  • They cannot lie about themselves or about the facts of the debt
  • They can’t inflate your debt with added charges that were not part of the original agreement or that are prohibited by law

If you believe you have been subject to illegal behavior by a third-party debt collector, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through their online websites or through their toll-free numbers. These agencies take such complaints seriously. You can also bring a lawsuit against a debt collector who has violated the law which could lead to up to $1,000 in statutory damages.

Busch, Reed, Jones & Leeper, P.C. Is Here to Help

If you are facing crushing debt or creditor harassment in or around Marietta, you can turn to our honest and dedicated legal team. Backed by more than 150 years of combined experience, our attorneys can help you find the legal solutions you need to eliminate debt and all of the stress, harassment, and difficulties associated with it. Let us put the right solution to work for you based on your unique situation, needs, and goals.

Contact us at (770) 629-0154 to get started today. Free consultations available.