The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
You get a call at 11:00 pm from an unknown number. Confused and slightly curious,
you answer, expecting a wrong number or robocall advising you about car warranties.
Instead, you’re met with the voice of a man claiming to be a lawyer, notifying you of a medium-sized debt listed in your name, far behind on payments. He’s rude, perhaps even using foul language, and listing personal information about you that you didn’t think he could access. You hang up, but he calls again. And again. And again.
What can you do?
It’s easy to feel powerless when dealing with debt collectors or collection agencies. However, you have rights and the collection agencies have rules under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The United States Congress passed the FDCPA in 1977 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.”
In other words, to protect you from the exact situation you’ve gone through: abusive debt collectors
Here’s what you can do if debt collectors are contacting you:
Learn your rights
The most personally empowering act you can take is to learn your rights, and ensure that the debt collectors do not infringe upon them. Debt collection companies often rely on consumer ignorance to get away with using unfair practices, so the strongest action you can take is making them play by the rules.
Here’s what’s prohibited by the FDCPA:
Harassment and Abuse
A debt collector cannot harass or abuse you in order to collect money. Harassment or abuse includes:
Threats of violence or unlawful activity to coerce you to pay
Profane or inappropriate language
Make public your debt information to scrutinize you
Obnoxiously repeated calls
There are regulations on how a debt collector can communicate with you.
Debt collectors cannot:
Contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
Come to your workplace in person. (They are allowed to call you at your workplace, but you can request they stop. If you request they stop, they must stop.)
Contact you about debt that you don’t owe
Take legal action against you on a debt that is past the statute of limitations; which is the maximum amount of time that parties have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense.
If the debt collector is violating the FDCPA, you can bring them to court. It is extremely important that you have records, like phone transcripts or recordings, text or email exchanges, or anything else that would be useful to prove that the debt collector violates FDCPA policy.
Contact people who can help.
Here at Madgett Law Foundation, we employ lawyers with exhaustive experience in dealing with debt collection agencies. We’re able to spot violations of the FDCPA with accuracy, and know from experience which violations are worth pursuing. If you feel that you have had your rights violated in exchanges with debt collectors, please contact us! We can help.
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