If you’re experiencing harassment from a debt collector, you may decide it’s a good idea to explore the provisions of the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act to see if your debt collector has made any FDCPA violations. While you may feel inundated by phone calls and mail, the actions taken by a debt collector may make you feel stressed, but those actions might not have consequences in a court of law.
Understanding what a debt collector can and can’t do when collecting a debt you owe (or may not even owe!) can help you know when it’s time to get in touch with a lawyer, or when it’s time to simply turn the ringer off on your phone until you can figure out how to deal with the debt collector’s demands for payment.
The FDCPA Does Not Cover Your Business Debts
When you fail to pay a personal credit card balance and the creditor closes the account and begins debt collection activity, you have rights under the FDCPA to seek redress if the debt collector or creditor engages in certain activities made illegal under the act. However, if you have an unpaid business debt, the FDCPA does not cover the collection activity or methods.
Here’s what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has to say on the matter:
“The FDCPA does not cover business debts. It also does not generally cover collection by the original creditor to whom you first became indebted.”
It’s important to consider the second part of that quote. Imagine you have a MasterCard issued by a local bank, and your financial problems result in having the card account closed. The actions taken by the local bank, known as the “original creditor” on the account, aren’t usually covered by the FDCPA. However, if that local bank sells the debt to another company, that’s when the FDCPA comes into play.
Remember: It’s not always easy to understand when to call a lawyer about potential Fair Debt Collections Practice Act violations. Most lawyers offer free consultations and can tell you whether the actions you may have perceived as illegal are, in fact, something on which you can base a lawsuit.
You Can Record Debt Collectors
If you listen to some debt collectors, they may lead you to believe you can’t record them without their permission. While there are strict laws on when you can record someone, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has no rule against recording telephone conversations, even if the other party objects to the recording when you inform them of your recording device. However, the law may impact your ability to record in certain states.
The FCC explains:
“Recording intrastate (within the same state) wireline telephone conversations may violate state laws. Your state public service commission should be able to answer any questions about relevant state laws and rules.”
As far as the laws in Illinois are concerned, there are some guidelines you can use to understand whether it is permissible to record the other party. For example, the state may allow recordings even though they may be subject to the single party consent law of the Federal Wiretap Act. You may also need to be aware of the laws present in another state if your debt collector is calling you from outside the borders of the state.
You can even tell a debt collector you’re recording them, even if you’re not and you don’t have a recording device. If anything, your comment may reduce the debt collector’s harassing behavior. However, it may be valuable to actually record your debt collector’s calls. Speaking with a lawyer can help you figure out whether it is legal to do so, based on which company or individual is harassing you about a debt.
Is a Debt Collector Harassing You About a Debt?
If you’re currently receiving harassing phone calls or mail from a debt collector, you may benefit from speaking with Suburban Legal Group about whether you have options to stop the harassment. You don’t have to experience financial ruin when a debt collector threatens to sue you, and you have rights when it comes to the FDCPA and debt collector harassment. Contact us for a free legal consultation.
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website are 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.