The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is an important federal law that protects consumers by limiting the actions a debt collector can take on behalf of a creditor; evidence of FDCPA violations may mean a consumer can file a lawsuit against a debt collector for improper behavior.
As a consumer who may owe debts to a creditor, it’s important to understand the protections offered by the FDCPA, as well as know what the debt collector can do within the confines of the law. While it may seem like some behaviors are worthy of the harassment label, debt collectors do have a variety of legal options at their disposal to collect on unpaid debts.
Here are some basic pieces of information about the FDCPA.
First Things First: Who is Bound by the FDCPA?
The FDCPA doesn’t impact absolutely everyone to whom a person may owe a debt. For example, if you owe a debt to a local business and they contact you to pay a tab you owe at the store, that business owner isn’t a “debt collector” and isn’t bound by the restrictions of the FDCPA.
The law is meant to guide the actions of debt collectors hired by creditors. A credit card company that hires a debt collector to collect on a past-due balance would want to make sure it was hiring a debt collection firm that followed the rules of the FDCPA.
Timing of Calls to Collect Debts
One of the most recognizable and well-known facets of the FDCPA is the time restriction on making calls to debtors. A debt collector may contact a debtor at home or his place of business. However, the debt collector must cease calling the debtor’s place of employment if the debtor requests it.
It’s also possible to prevent a debt collector from calling a home phone, but the debtor must contact the debt collector in writing for this particular right.
If a debt collector doesn’t have the phone number (work or home) of the debtor, the debt collector is allowed to contact relatives, associates, and neighbors, but the debt collector cannot reveal any information about the reason for the call. Further, debt collectors can only call friends and relatives a single time for the information and cannot continue to repeatedly call that person for information on the debtor.
FDCPA Violations and Harassment
The FDCPA isn’t designed to prevent debt collectors from contacting debtors or collecting debts. It is the right of debt collectors to seek payment for unpaid debts. The FDCPA was enacted to prevent harassment by debt collectors that legislators believed were harming consumers with their behavior.
“…the FDCPA is designed to protect debtors from harassment by bill collectors. As a result, it is illegal for debt collectors to harass debtors, and in particular, they cannot threaten bodily harm or arrest. Additionally, debt collectors cannot threaten to sue debtors unless they truly intend to take the debtors to court.”
The last sentence here is one of the most important facets of the act. Many unscrupulous debt collectors will threaten a debtor with a lawsuit, which is perfectly legal under the law as long as the debt collector truly intends to file a lawsuit.
Simply making an idle threat in an attempt to coerce someone to pay a debt is one of the many FDCPA violations a debt collector can make. Unfortunately, many debtors aren’t aware of their rights, and they make mistakes when dealing with a debt collector by making payments that cause financial hardships in other areas.
For example, a debtor threatened with a lawsuit over an unpaid credit card debt may decide to pay the debt collector to avoid an imaginary lawsuit and risk getting in financial trouble with another creditor. The debtor may even hold off paying items like a mortgage or a car payment.
If you suspect that a debt collector has committed FDCPA violations, it’s important to speak with a lawyer to see if there are legal remedies available to stop the harassment. Additionally, taking a look at the official website of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a good idea.
Do You Need Advice on the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA)?
Are creditors hounding you for payments? Are debt collectors harassing you about unpaid debts? Are you concerned that their actions aren’t legal under the law? Would you like to know how the legal team of Suburban Legal Group PC can help? Request a Free No Obligation Legal Evaluation today, and we’ll let you know your options and whether bankruptcy is the right step for you.
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. Suburban Legal Group PC shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.