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WHAT IS THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION ACT (FDCPA)?
The Fair Debt Collection Protection Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act were signed into federal law to protect consumers from abusive, negligent, and fraudulent actions by collection agencies and other related organizations. It is astounding sometimes to discover the deceitful and, more importantly illegal, lengths which process servers, debt collectors and creditors will go to coerce and defraud our clients.
What is the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C 1692)
Debt collection abuse can take many forms, from abusive phone calls, threatening or deceptive collection letters to sharing information about your debts with family members, friends, and others. These practices, often used by debt collectors, are some of the many prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The purpose of this act is to protect consumers from harassment and abuse by debt collection agents. How a collector contacts a consumer, communicates with them, and behaves during this communication are strictly regulated by the law.
A collection agent may not:
- Threaten you with violence
- Use abusive or obscene language
- Threaten to send you to jail or have your children taken away from you
- Falsely claim to be an attorney or government employee
- Calling at inconvenient hours
- Calling an excessive number of times
- Taking your wages or property without a court judgment
- Threatening to sue without having the legal right or intention to do so
- Making any idle threat
- Telling your neighbors or other third parties about your debt
- Engaging in any unfair acts or deceptive practices.
Debtors have rights and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits harassment and abuse even if you owe the debt. Any consumer whose rights have been violated are entitled to actual damages, statutory damages of up to $1,000.00 and attorney’s fees.
If you are faced with debt collector abuse you should:
Save everything, documents, voice mail recordings, letters and other items from a collector can all be essential in proving a case.
Request that the debt collection company verify the debt. You should do this with a certified letter.
Request that the debt collection company stop calling you under the FDCPA a debt collector is not allowed to contact you by phone after you have requested in writing that they stop.
If you are being sued then make sure to attend all your court dates, most courts will provide additional time to find an attorney to represent you.