The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
If you’ve ever dealt with debt collection agencies before, or if you know someone who has, then you’re probably all too aware of how aggressive these agencies can be. Even though you still have a responsibility to repay your debts to these agencies, you shouldn’t be subject to harassment by debt collectors. And that’s exactly why the U.S. government passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
The regulations in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act have three desired goals: First, the government has recognized that debt collectors have become overly aggressive in recent years, and this law is intended to protect debtors from abusive creditors and debt collectors; Second, the FDCPA provides a list of guidelines for collectors and creditors that dictates what fair debt collection practices should look like; and third, this law provides a platform where debtors can file complaints against abusive creditors and collectors without being penalized or threatened. It doesn’t matter if the debt collector is part of the lending company or is from a third-party collection agency; this federal act prohibits all collectors from using excessive aggression, harassment, and/or threats against debtors.
The act doesn’t prohibit collectors from harassing family members of the debtor, and it doesn’t offer complete protection for every kind of debt. It does provide some relief for the debtor, however, and it provides a guideline for how debt collectors and collection agencies should conduct themselves when dealing with debtors and lenders.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the following list details the prohibited behaviors of debt collectors and collection agencies:
- Calling a debtor before 8am and after 9pm, and these times must comply with the time zone in which the debtor resides.
- Continuing to make phone calls and send letters to the debtor, even after the debtor has requested the collector to stop doing so. Exception: The collector is allowed to communicate with the debtor to acknowledge that the request was received.
- Calling or contacting the debtor at his/her place of work, if the debtor has asked to be contacted only at his/her place of residence.
- Directly contacting the debtor, even though the debtor has a financial or legal expert representing him/her.
- Pretending to be a lawyer or law enforcement officer in order to contact the debtor.
- Requesting any amount of money higher than what the debtor owes the original creditor.
- Threatening the debtor with legal action.
- Using language that is profane, offensive, or overly-aggressive.
- Contacting other persons with whom the debtor has close relationships in order to discuss the debt. Exceptions: if the debtor’s spouse is authorized to represent the debtor, or if the collector is contacting coworkers or neighbors of the debtor only to obtain the contact information of the debtor.
- Using any forms of communication other than phone calls or letters.
- Putting false information on the debtor’s credit report, or even threatening to do so.