UNFAIR DEBT COLLECTION – DEBT COLLECTOR HARRASSMENT AND ABUSE INVESTIGATION
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Enacted by the United States Congress in 1978, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers against unfair debt collection tactics implemented by unscrupulous businesses. The FDCPA sets clear guidelines for American based companies to follow for collecting debts, as well as defines the legality of alleged debts.
Overview of the FDCPA
As one of the foundations of the FDCPA, a debt collector represents any legally formed business that collects debts for other American-based companies. Attorneys who help creditors, debt buyers, or debt collection businesses also fall under the regulations created as the result of the FDCPA. The FDCPA requires debt collectors that violate any provision written into the legislation to pay consumers $1,000 in statutory penalties, as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
The FDCPA applies to third-party debt collectors. However, several states such as California have passed legislation that protects consumers against aggressive debt collection tactics implements by the original creditor. The FDCPA includes legal language that allows states to broaden the coverage that protects consumers against unfair debt collection practices.
Specifics of the FDCPA
Under the FDCPA, third-party debt collectors are prohibited from conducting several unfair debt collection practices.
Threats and Harassment
When a consumer notifies a third-party debt collector in writing that he or she wants the debt collector to stop communications, the third-party debt collector must comply with the written request. Third-party debt collectors are prohibited from making threats or harassing consumers who owe money to another business. Courts have consistently ruled that threats and harassment constitute actions that include using abusive language, issuing warnings about taking legal action, and disclosing consumer financial information to friends and family members.
The FDCPA sets limits on the time when third-party debt collectors can call consumers. Between 8am and 9pm local time, third-party debt collectors are allowed under the FDCPA to call consumers, granted the debt collection companies have not received a cease and desist request that stops the telephone calls. Moreover, debt collectors are not permitted to call constantly throughout the day and let debtor telephones ring repeatedly. Debt collectors are not allowed to contact employers concerning debt collection efforts. Automated telephone calls are also illegal under FDCPA provisions.
Settled and Discharged Debts
Third-party debt collectors are not allowed to collect debts settled by the original creditor or discharged in bankruptcy court. In cases such as identity theft, the FDCPA prevents debt collectors from trying to collect debts never accumulated by consumers. Debt collectors cannot sue or threaten to file lawsuits to collect debts that have defaulted for more than four years.
Filing False Reports
The FDCPA clearly sets the guidelines for the types of information debt collectors can and cannot send to credit reporting agencies. Many consumers are unaware of the FDCPA provision prohibiting reports of consumer debt information that third-party debt collectors have no legal right to collect. In addition, the FDCPA stipulates third-party debt collectors must inform credit reporting agencies about credit disputes filed by consumers.
Third-party debt collectors are prohibited from deceiving consumers. Deceptive practices under the FDCPA include lying about how much is owed, distributing confusing and misleading written and/or digital communication, and falsely claiming a debt collection firm represents a debt lawyer or a government agency. One of the most common deceptive practices used by third-party debt collectors involves the failure to properly identify the debt collection company.
Contact a Consumer Law Attorney
Consumers enjoy numerous federal and state protections against the unlawful practices implemented by third-party debt collectors. To learn more about your debt collection rights, fill out the no obligation form to schedule a free initial consultation with a licensed consumer rights attorney.
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