A federal law known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a set of rules that govern the way in which debt collectors must behave when they attempt to collect a debt. A government group called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) administers the law.
Many years of abuses regarding debt collection led to the creation of the FDCPA. The law has given citizens the ability to stop collection companies and original creditors from using harassing techniques and threats to get a person to pay a bill.
A Recent FDCPA Court Case in New York
At any given time, there are active court cases all over the United States where a citizen has sued a debt collector because of alleged collection abuses and violations of the FDCPA. One interesting case is underway in New York’s District Court.
In the case of Halberstam v. Global Credit and Collection Corp., the issue under discussion is whether a debt collector can call a telephone number and leave a message with a third party about a debt. Leaving a message would potentially reveal to that third party that the call was from a debt collector. The question asked was whether the debt collector was bound by the FDCPA to call back at another time.
The defendant (the debt collector and the party being sued) allegedly left a message with a third party that asked for the plaintiff (the alleged debtor and the party who filed the suit) to call back at a later time regarding “a personal business matter.” A decision by the judge in January suggested that the proper behavior for the debt collector would be to simply say “I’ll call back” when asked for a message.
In his Memorandum, Decision, and Order, the judge wrote that using the phrase “a personal business matter” was subversive and designed to get the debtor to call back under the pretense that the call wasn’t from a debt collector. As such, the debt collector was seen as violating section 1692c(b) of the FDCPA.
However, the defendant (the debt collector) filed an appeal and the judge decided that the appeal had merit. The defendant made a statement suggesting that it hoped the CFPB, which creates the laws for the FDCPA, would address the issue in a forthcoming update to the law.
Potential Debt Collection Rule Updates
Over time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has created updates to the FDCPA, and its most recent report discusses the impact of new technologies and how they impact consumers and the debt collection industry.
For example, the most recent report suggested:
“It would be useful for the bureau to address the use of newer technologies. However, there were many differences among commenters as to how the CFPB should address these newer technologies.”
Additionally, the report suggested the FDCPA needed to clarify rules surrounding the appropriate times for making debt collection calls, as well as the proper place and manner for those calls. The report also suggested better documentation was needed to provide consumers and debt collectors with information about when and how a debt was sold.
Rules that Debt Collectors Must Follow
The essential protections for consumers offered by the FDCPA may evolve over time, but the law will remain invaluable to consumers for as long as it remains in effect. The FDCPA ensures consumers can halt abusive debt collection practices by hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit.
Some of the behaviors that debt collectors must avoid include:
- Using abusive language while trying to collect a debt
- Making false statements to an alleged debtor
- Calling too early or too late in the day
- Empty threats of legal action when no lawsuit exists
Have you been the victim of any of these behaviors by an abusive debt collector? Would you like to know more about your rights under the law and how the law team at Suburban Legal Group PC can help? Request a Free No Obligation Legal Evaluation today, and we’ll let you know your options and how to stop the harassment.
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.