Know your rights: Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a consumer protection amendment, establishing legal protection from abuse of debt collection practices. A debt collector is “any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principle purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due to another”.
The Act prohibits certain types of abusive and deceptive conduct when attempting to collect debts, including the following:
a.) Hours of phone contact.
b.) Contacting consumers by telephone outside the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time.
c.) Failure to seize communications upon request.
d.) If they communicate with the consumer in any way, other than litigation after receiving written notice that said consumer wishes no further communication or refuses to pay the alleged debt, with certain exceptions, including advising that collection efforts are being terminated or that the collector intends to file a lawsuit or pursue other remedies where permitted.
e.) Causing the telephone to ring or engaging any person in a telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse or harass any person at the called number.
f.) Communicating with consumers at their place of employment after having been advised that this is unacceptable or prohibited by the employer.
g.) Contacting the consumer known to be represented by an attorney.
h.) Communicating with the consumer after request for validation has been made; communicating with the consumer or the pursuing collection efforts by the debt collector after receipt of a consumer’s written request for verification of a debt made within the thirty day validation period and before the debt collector mails the consumer the requested verification or original creditor’s name and address.
i.) Misrepresentation or deceit such as representing to the individual that he or she is an attorney or enforcement law officer.
j.) Publishing the consumer’s name or address on a black list.
k.) Threatening arrest or legal action that is either not permitted or not actually contemplated.
l.) USING ABUSIVE OR PROFAIN LANGUAGE IN THE COURSE OF COMMUNICATIONS RELATED TO THE DEBT.
m.) Communicating with third parties not involved in the debt such as revealing or discussing the nature of the debt with those third parties other than the consumer’s spouse or attorney. Collection agencies are not allowed to contact neighbors or co-workers.
n.) Contact by embarrassing media such as using a postcard or using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address or any envelope when communicating with the consumer, by use of the mails.
o.) Reporting false information on a consumer credit report.
The Act requires debt collectors to do the following:
a.) Identify themselves and notify the consumer in every communication, that the communications are from a debt collector.
b.) Give the name and address of the original creditor and upon the consumer’s written request made within thirty days of receipt of the notice.
c.) Notify the consumer of their rights to dispute the debt, in part or in full, with the debt collector. The thirty day notice is required to be sent within five days of the initial communication with the consumer.
d.) Provide verification of the debt if the consumer sends a written dispute or request for verification within thirty days of receiving the notice.
e.) File a lawsuit in the proper venue which is only the place where the consumer lives or signed the contract that is being sued upon. Note though that this does not prevent the debt collector from being sued in other venues for violating the Act such as where the consumer moves outside the venue.
f.) People that are aggrieved by debt collectors may file a private lawsuit in a State or Federal Court to collect damages including attorney’s fees and court costs. Note that the consumer does not have to prove actual damages in order to claim statutory damages up to $1,000.00 plus reasonable attorney’s fees.
Do I Need a Debt Harassment Attorney?
If you have been harassed by a bill collector in violation of the FCCPA or FDCPA, you may have legal recourse, and our debt harassment attorneys may be able to help. Contact Attorney, Cal Leventhal, by e-mail <CLeventhal@dlplaw.com> or phone: (570) 225-5357