Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
In 1978, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was passed by the United States Congress to protect individuals from creditor harassment and abuse during the debt collection process. Not only does it provide legal grounds against unethical creditor practices, it allows debtors a way to report disputes of creditor misconduct.
Stringent consequences await any debt collection agencies that find themselves to be in violation of the FDCPA. Threatening tactics and forceful manipulation on the part of creditors is illegal and must be acted upon immediately.
What does this act protect against?
According to the FDCPA amendment made to the Consumer Credit Protection Act, Title VIII §801-818, there are certain restricted actions that collection agencies and creditors cannot commit. A debt collector must always respect the consumer in debt, especially in how they communicate with them. If he or she is looking for the whereabouts of a particular individual in debt, they may inquire with other people only if they do not reveal that the consumer is in debt or continually harass them.
Should the debt collector find out that the consumer is protected by an attorney, they must not speak to anyone else regarding this situation except for their lawyer. They also must honor the debtor's time and well-being by not communicating with them at their place of employment or at odd hours of the day. Essentially these debt collectors must be honest and polite, never offering false information or misrepresenting themselves or the debt in question.
Eight Different Unfair Practices
There are various practices under the FDCPA that are off limits to collection agencies as they have been deemed unfair and unacceptable. We have provided a list of those eight illegal actions that if experienced, legal recourse can be taken up with the help of a lawyer. They include the following:
- A debtor must never try to collect money above and beyond the debt that is owed. They may collect only the amount due, fees, pertinent charges, interest or other costs associated with the actual debt.
- The creditor must always notify the debtor at least 5 days prior to depositing any check that has been collected to pay off some or all of their debt.
- They may not solicit any postdated checks or other form of money and use it as a threat to pursue prosecution or other legal action.
- Debtors do not have the legal right to threaten depositing a check or payment before the date it is supposed to be submitted.
- No creditor may force charges on an individual for telephone communication via collect calls or other expensive types of contact. It is not the responsibility of the debtor to pay for communication with a creditor regarding money they owe.
- Creditors cannot threaten to take "non-judicial action" against your property, unless a pre-existing judicial order is in place.
- They may not send notices or request payment by communicating on a mailed post card.
- When sending out correspondence to the debtor, the collector may not place any symbol or wording on the piece of mail that would denote it is coming from a debt collection agency. They may only place the name and address of the debtor and their business name as long as it does not indicate their type of business in the company name.
While there are other statues and details in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the above mentioned list includes some of the most critical things to watch out for. Additionally, it is wise to realize that debt collectors must always give proper information about their identity and never attempt to disguise their intentions when attempting to collect money from a debtor. If you feel as if you have been threatened or are being inappropriately contacted by your collection agency, we strongly suggest that you obtain legal help.
We Can Help with Protection
It is daunting to deal with creditors on your own and they may try to make you feel helpless. This is not the case and the Law Offices of Marshall Schultz can help provide the assistance you need to put an end to their illegal actions. Sometimes even the simple presence of an attorney in a creditor harassment case may put an end to the abuse; however, should the severity of the situation grow we are highly qualified to handle everything properly.
Conducting legal help for over 10,000 consumers facing overwhelming debt in the past 27 years, our legal advocates will always put your best interests first. Rest easy knowing that we remain dedicated to our clients from start to finish. Offering a free consultation, we encourage you to find relief from the stress and unnecessary fear by contacting our office today!