The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is one of the most important laws protecting consumers from debt collectors. It is vital for you to understand your rights under the FDCPA and to understand what to do if those rights are being violated.
The FDCPA has been the law since March of 1978, and it was specifically designed to eliminate abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices.
How the FDCPA Controls Debt Collectors
Debt collectors are prohibited from taking the following actions.
- They may not swear at you.
- They may not threaten you with violence.
- They may not make repeated phone calls.
- They can’t make false claims or threaten to take an action they have no intention of taking.
- They may not demand more money than is owed.
- First-party lenders may tack on fees or interest, but third-party debt collectors may not.
- They may not contact you on public social media platforms.
- They may only contact you between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM.
- They may not “publicize your debt” by calling you at your workplace.
- They may not ask for post-dated checks.
- They may not call you every day.
- If they know you have an attorney, they may not bypass that attorney to get to you.
- They may not disclose information about your account to anyone other than your spouse or attorney. Threats to publicly embarrass you are always threats to take an action they have no intention of facing.
They must also inform you that they are a debt collector attempting to collect a debt. They may not try to pretext or deceive you into giving out information and sending money.
Your Recourse When Debt Collectors Violate the Law
First and foremost, you don’t have to talk to debt collectors at all. If you get a letter in the mail, you can send one back demanding that they speak to you only via the mail. It’s a good idea to send such a letter with a certified mail return receipt so they can’t claim they didn’t get it.
Second, if you know the debt collector violated the FDCPA, you may call the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to register a complaint. You must file a complaint within one year of the violation—sooner is generally better.
Third, you may even launch a legal action against the debt collector and may recover up to $1000 per violation. You may also receive legal fees and court costs.
Stop Debt Collectors Today
Most debt collectors follow the law, and most don’t pose much of a threat to you unless they launch a lawsuit. Nevertheless, receiving a steady stream of letters and phone calls can be very distressing.
If you’re tired of dealing with debt collectors, call us for a free consultation. Bankruptcy ensures it will be a long time before you ever have to hear: “This is an attempt to collect a debt” ever again.
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