There are federal and state laws that protect consumers from malicious and unfair debt collection practices. Facing financial debt is hard enough without abusive communications and activities from creditors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides protection from a variety of abusive, deceptive and unfair debt collection practices by debt collectors. The FDCPA gives consumers legal protection from certain forms of debt collection abuse methods, including:
- Calling at a location known to be inconvenient, such as your place of employment or during inappropriate hours (generally between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.) unless you agree to it;
- Calling you at work if they’re told (orally or in writing) that you’re not allowed to get calls there;
- Calling after being informed that you have legal representation;
- Pretending to be someone else to harass, threaten, or deceive you;
Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, they may not:
- use threats of violence or harm;
- publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies);
- use obscene or profane language; or
- repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone.
False statements. Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not:
- falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
- falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
- falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
- misrepresent the amount you owe;
- indicate that papers they send you are legal forms if they aren’t; or
- indicate that papers they send to you aren’t legal forms if they are.
Debt collectors also are prohibited from saying that:
- you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt;
- they’ll seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they are permitted by law to take the action and intend to do so; or
- legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action.
Debt collectors may not:
- give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company;
- send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency if it isn’t; or
- use a false company name.
Unfair practices. Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, they may not:
- try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt – or your state law – allows the charge;
- deposit a post-dated check early;
- take or threaten to take your property unless it can be done legally; or
- contact you by postcard.
These actions include only a few circumstances in which a debt collector may be liable for violations of the FDCPA. As there are limits on the amount of time one can file a claim for FDCPA violations, seeking legal representation as soon as possible if one believes his/her rights have been violated is recommended.
If you believe that your rights protected under the FDCPA are being violated, the Nathan Baney can help determine if you are legally entitled to protection under the act. I am experienced at investigating claims against debt collectors whose activities violate FDCPA laws and representing consumers in Federal Court. Filling out the contact form below the first step in the process. Nathan will contact you directly to discuss your case in more detail and provide additional information.