What You Can Do If Your Debt Collector Violates the FDCPA

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers from aggressive and unscrupulous debt collectors.

The law has been in force since 1977 and was amended in 2010. Despite being a well-established law, many debt collectors continue to violate it with abandon. Over 4,000 FDCPA cases are filed each year, and consumers file over 60,000 complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau each year.

Fortunately, you have plenty of recourse if a creditor acts in an abusive fashion.

Protections Under the FDCPA

You enjoy numerous protections under the FDCPA.

  1. Debt collectors who contact third parties to obtain information about you may not use a pretext. They must say only that they are confirming or correcting location information. They do not have to identify their employer unless asked directly, but even after they identify their employer, they must not state that they owe any debt.
  2. Once you have an attorney, such as a New York bankruptcy attorney, they may not communicate with anyone other than your attorney.
  3. They may only call between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM. They may not call your employer if they know or have reason to know that your employer prohibits such communications. 
  4. They must cease communications if you contact them in writing with a request to do so. Once you do so, they may only communicate via mail to let you know that further efforts are being terminated, to let the consumer know they may invoke certain remedies, or to notify you that they intend to evoke a remedy, such as launching a lawsuit.
  5. They may not threaten violence. They may not use obscene language. They may not publish “debtor lists.” They may not advertise the sale of a debt to coerce payment of the debt. They may not call repeatedly with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass. They must identify themselves as a debt collector should you pick up the phone.
  6. They must be honest. False representation of themselves, the debt, or the consequences of failing to pay the debt is a violation of the FDCPA. This includes insinuations that suggest you will be arrested if you do not pay the debt. They cannot threaten any action that cannot legally be taken or that they don’t really intend to take.
  7. They may not tack on interest, fees, charges, or expenses unless such fees are expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt.
  8. They may not solicit or accept postdated checks. 

Each time a debt collector engages in unfair practices, you may collect up to $1000 in damages. While it isn’t always worthwhile to take the debt collector to court, you can often end their harassment by sending a certified letter informing them that they violated the FDCPA. This usually stops their conduct. 

Using Bankruptcy vs. Using the FDCPA

If you can use the FDCPA to largely defang creditors and get them off your back, why file bankruptcy?

File bankruptcy for any of the following reasons.

  1. Your credit score is rapidly declining, and it could impact your ability to secure housing or transportation in the future.
  2. You suspect a creditor may sue you or a creditor has already started a lawsuit against you.
  3. Your debts have become overwhelming to the point where you are suffering physical or mental distress. 
  4. You are in danger of losing your car or your home in repossession proceedings and want to try to keep them. 

If you’re just trying to stop collection calls, the FDCPA is a powerful tool to help you do that. 

Get Help Today

You don’t have to do guesswork if you’re not sure whether bankruptcy is right for you. You can always reach out to our law firm to schedule a free consultation.

We’ll examine your situation and advise you whether bankruptcy is a good option for you.

Ready to get started? Contact us today!

See also:

3 Ways to Stop Creditor Harassment

How the Automatic Stay Protects You During Bankruptcy

Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act 



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