Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and your rights

The FDCPA is a federal law that provides residents of all states with considerable rights and protections against abusive, unfair and deceptive debt collection practices used by debt collectors. Examples of debt collection practices prohibited by the FDCPA include using profane language, lying and calling a debtor at work if the debt collector knows the employer disapproves. The debt collector must also protect the debtor’s privacy by not disclosing the debt to others such as friends, family members or co-workers.

A debt collector, as defined in the FDCPA, is anyone who regularly collects debts on behalf of an original creditor.

The FDCPA covers only consumer debt, which includes personal, family and household debt, but not business debt or any debt incurred for business purposes. Common types of consumer debt are credit card debt, automobile loans, home loans, utility bills and medical debt.

A debt collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after you are first contacted, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.

Debt collectors may not:

  • Use threats of violence or harm against the person, property, or reputation
  • Publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts
  • Use obscene or profane language
  • Repeatedly call on the telephone to annoy and without identifying themselves
  • Advertise your debt
  • Falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
  • Falsely imply that you have committed a crime
  • Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau

Illegal Actions of a debt collector include:

  • Calling you at work and knows that it is inconvenient or that your employer disapproves or forbids it.
  • A debt collector knows that an attorney, whose contact information is known or is easy to locate, represents you and the debt collector continues to contact you.
  • Debt collectors can only communicate with other people to obtain contact
  • Misrepresenting the amount, character, or legal status of a debt
  • Communicating false credit information about you
  • Refusing to honor your dispute or cease communication rights
  • Threatening to take your property or garnish your wages without a court order (judgment).
  • Intimidating you, AND your family
  • Endangering your reputation, or your property
  • Using profane or obscene language
  • Painting the Debt and credit issues are matters of criminal law while in actuality it is civil law
  • Tricking you into accepting charges for collect calls, telegrams, or a C.O.D
  • Attempting to cash a post-dated check before the date written on the check
  • Claiming to be an attorney or sends a letter made to look like it is from an attorney when he is not an attorney
  • Sending a letter that is made to look like a government or court document when it isn't

You can sue:

You may have the right to sue a collector in a court of law. If you win, you may recover money for the damages you suffered and, in certain jurisdictions, you may recover statutory damages. In addition, court costs and attorney's fees may also be recovered.

You can report to the office of your state attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission;

Report any problems you have with a debt collector to the office of your state attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission. Many states have their own debt collection laws and your state attorney general can help you determine your rights. In addition, you may contact a local attorney to determine your legal options regarding an alleged FDCPA violation.

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