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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

(see also Fair Credit Reporting Act violations and remedies).

 

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (or FDCPA), 15 U.S.C.  1692 et seq., is a United States statute added in 1978 as Title VIII of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Its purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information's accuracy. The Act creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the Act. It is sometimes used in conjunction with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

If you have filed a Chapter 13, and a collection agency is trying to collect on a debt that was discharged in bankruptcy, call us --we can help you.

Prohibited Conduct

The Act prohibits certain types of "abusive and deceptive" behaviors these collectors may use when attempting to collect debts, including the following:

  • contacting consumers by telephone outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time

  • contacting consumers in any way (other than litigation) after receiving WRITTEN notice that said consumer wishes no further contact or refuses to pay the alleged debt (unless it is to say that collection efforts are being terminated or that the collector intends to file a lawsuit)

  • contacting consumers at their place of employment (after having been told verbally or in writing that this is not acceptable)

  • misrepresenting themselves in any way to gain access to a consumer or misrepresenting the debt

  • publishing the consumers name or address on a "bad debt" list

  • adding extraneous "fees" or "charges" to the original balance (unless allowed by law)

  • threatening consumers with arrest or legal action that is not actually contemplated or even possible

  • using abusive or profane language in the course of communication related to the debt

  • revealing or discussing the nature of debts with third parties

  • reporting false information on a consumer's credit report or threatening to do so in the process of collection

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Required conduct

Further, the FDCPA requires debt collectors to:

  • identify themselves and notify the consumer, in every communication, that the communication is from a debt collector

  • give the name and address of the original creditor (company to which the debt was originally payable) upon the consumers request.

  • provide verification of the debt to the consumer upon request (though what constitutes verification is not spelled out by the Act)

  • notify the consumer of their right to dispute the debt, in part or in full, with the debt collector. Such a dispute must also be reported by the creditor to any credit bureau that reports it.

(If a written dispute or request for verification is sent within 30 days after receiving the first written notice concerning the consumer's rights, then the debt collector must either provide the requested validation information or cease their collection efforts altogether. The so called 30-day "g" validation notice is required to be sent by debt collectors in the first written communication to the consumer. The consumer's receipt of this notice starts the clock running on the 30-day right to demand validation of the debt from the debt collector. Consumers may still dispute a debt later, but they lose the right to compel the debt collector to produce verification of the debt if they dispute it after the 30-day period has elapsed. A consumer may also verbally dispute a debt--though the consumer does not preserve all of his/her rights by doing so. )

Enforcement of the FDCPA: If You Have A CLaim - We Can Help. Contact Us.

Aggrieved consumers may also file a private lawsuit in a State or Federal court to collect damages (actual, statutory, attorney's fee and court-costs) from third-party debt collectors. The FDCPA is a strict liability law, which means that a consumer need not prove actual damages in order to claim statutory damages of up to $1,000 if a debt collector is proven to have violated the FDCPA. The collector may, however, escape penalty if they can make a convincing argument that the violation or violations were results of "bona fide error."

Source: Wikipedia.com, FTC Brochurehttp://www.wikipedia.com