Anyone who has been hounded by phone calls from debt collectors will be the first to tell you how awful the process can be. The process would be a whole lot worse if not for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act approved in 1977 and overseen by the Federal Trade Commission. It has been amended to keep up with the changing world around us, but the intent remains the same. It is in place to both protect consumers from abusive practices in the collection of debt as well as give them the right to dispute these claims.
This article will go over some of what the FDCPA does, and does not allow in addition to why it was created in the first place.
While it’s no secret that financial trouble can be a precursor to a lot of additional troubles in a person or family’s life. There is increasing evidence that suggest the use of abusive and unfair debt collection practices can lead to a myriad of other problems. According to the FTC, abusive debt collection tactics have contributed to a rise in personal bankruptcies, marital instability, job loss, and invasion of privacy.
There are now a long list of things debt collectors can not do in the attempt to resolve an account thanks to FDCPA. If you are confronted with any of the following tactics you have the right to report the debt collector and their agency to the appropriate authorities.
One of the older infractions that has fallen out of favor by companies is the calling outside of allowable hours of 8am to 9pm in the consumer’s local time zone. Since the advent of cell phones with time stamped caller ID, the agencies have become careful not to break this rule. However it still happens and if you hold on to this information after the infraction, you have some good ammunition to get an abusive debt collector off your hands.
Unfortunately not all infractions are so easily proven and it’s because of this we advise you to record all calls made from a debt collector to ensure you’re protected against the abusive tactics that some choose to take.
What can’t a debt collector do or say?
Without prior consent from the consumer, the answer is a lot. Some of them are more obvious than others such as continually ringing your phone with the intent to annoy. The debt collector also can not use the threat of violence or personal attack as well as any profane language when speaking with the consumer. They can not misrepresent that they are an attorney or law enforcement officer. Nor threaten the publication of a list of consumers who refuse to pay debts except to a consumer reporting agency.
In addition to these regulations, if you are being represented by an attorney on the matter and the collector is aware, they may not attempt to contact you in any form. This is an important measure to take if you wish the contacts cease.
What must a debt collector do when contacting you?
First and foremost, a debt collector must, in every form of communication, announce they are such and that information obtained are for the purposes of recovering that debt. After that, they aren’t required to do much of anything without action carried out by the consumer. At this point it would be wise to include an attorney to work on your behalf but if you’d like to take matters into your own hands, your battle begins with the written word. After making a written request, the debt collector must give the name and address of the creditor and provide verification that the debt is owed.
The FDCPA is instrumental in keeping debt collectors at bay and if you’re ever in a situation where you feel mistreated there are many ways to combat them. The first step would be to know your rights and the collector’s according to the FDCPA. For a full description on those rights you can visit the FTC’s website or consult your preferred attorney.
This article was written by Brian Levesque. Brian graduated from FSU with his degree in finance and has since become a manager at a bank in Georgia. In his free time, Brian enjoys freelance content creation for Scott D. Owens. You can read more of Brian’s work on his Google+ page.