The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

February 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Debt

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a United States statute that was added with later amendments in 1978. This act was created to protect consumers from corrupt debt collection methods and agencies. It also gives consumers the chance to speak against information that may not be accurate and may be held against them.

This article summarizes the provisions of the FDCPA as they are to be understood. It may not include extensive details, but they are guaranteed to be 100% accurate.

The FDCPA regulates the debt collectors. These are the people who use any instruments of interstate commerce or mails in any business with the main purpose of debt collection. This includes regularly collecting debts and attempting to collect debts, either directly or indirectly, that are owed, due, asserted to be owed or due to another.

This basically means that it deals with situations where debt collection agencies may contact you to pay certain debts that may be owed to a bank or other financial institution. If the bank decides to collect the debt themselves, the FDCPA does not apply, though some states may have rules that regulate these debt collecting institutions.

Debt collectors must always contact you and let you know that they are debt collectors. They must let you know of your right to dispute such debts (this notice is known as the 1692g Notice.) If you inquire within a month of receiving the notice, debt collectors must tell you who you owe the money to and state the company or institution’s name and address. They must also be able to prove that you owe this debt within a month, if you request for it.

If a lawsuit is filed, it must take place within your vicinity or where the contract was signed that states the debt. If you got into debt in New York, for example, but no longer live there, a debt collector can still file the lawsuit in New York.

Debt collectors are not allowed to call you before 8am or after 9pm of your time zone. If you have sent them a written notice that you no longer want to be contacted or refuse to pay up your debts, they cannot contact you anymore, unless they want to tell you about a filed lawsuit. Debt collectors are not allowed to harass you by constantly calling you on the phone. They cannot contact you at work once you have requested so in writing and cannot contact you if you already gave them your attorney’s details; they should be calling your attorney instead. If you ask for debt verification within a month of the 1692g Notice, they are not allowed to contact you until you receive said verification.

Debt collectors must not deceive or misrepresent anyone, i.e. they cannot lie about your debt amount or pretend to be attorneys. They do not have the right to ask for unjustified debt amounts of more than what you actually owe. Your name and address cannot be put onto a bad debt list. Debt collectors do not have the right to threaten you with jail or lawsuits unless these have already been planned beforehand. Profane and abusive language is generally frowned upon. Your debt cannot be discussed with anyone that is not involved, unless it is your attorney or spouse, and they are not allowed to threaten to do so, either. They cannot even contact you in a way that may reveal that you have debt in front of others, like through postcards. Lastly, debt collectors cannot put false debt statements on your credit report, or even threaten to do so.

If debt collectors have done anything against these terms, report them to the Federal Trade Commission. You could even sue them, if you wish, but this is usually just a waste of time. The Federal Trade Commission can simply enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act on them.