If you have ever received a late night phone call from a debt collector threatening to repossess your personal belongings, you know creditors can be very intimidating. But, did you know that phone calls like that are actually probably against federal law? The federal government developed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) to protect people like you, who are trying to pay off their debts but are having a hard time. There is no reason that a creditor should ever intimidate you or make you feel threatened. Knowing your rights under the law is the first step to fighting back!
What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The FDCPA was enacted with the average citizen in mind. The government realized that creditors were often taking advantage of debtors and tricking them into giving up information or payments that they really did not mean to provide. The FDCPA makes these kinds of deceiving debt collection practices illegal and forces creditors to collect debts in a “fair” way or face legal consequences.
What is the Creditor Actually Allowed to Do Under the FDCPA?
Debt collectors are allowed to contact you via mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. They are permitted to speak with your attorney, if you have one. They can also contact some third parties, but they are only permitted to do this to obtain your address. They cannot tell the third party (friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc.) that the reason they want your address is because they are trying to collect on a debt.
There are certain restrictions on these rights under the FDCPA. For example, the creditor cannot call your home at unreasonable hours. They also cannot do any of the following:
- Make false statements, which includes information about the debt or what they are going to do to collect the debt
- Threaten to file a lawsuit if they have no intention of doing so
- State or imply that they have a team of people working on your debt when this is not the case
- Contact friends, neighbors, or your employer about the debt
- Prematurely deposit a post-dated check or threaten to file charges on a post-dated check solicited from you
- Give legal advice to the creditor unless the debt collector is an attorney
- Send legal letters that have not been reviewed by an attorney
- Make any type of threatening statement (threatening to call you every day, threatening to put you in jail, threatening to harm you or your family, etc.)
Instead, the caller must tell you that they are a debt collector when they call. They must also inform you that any information that they collect will be used in their efforts to collect the debt. Once the debt collector has made contact with you, they must send you further information about the debt in writing, including the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor. They will also tell you that if you do not dispute this debt in writing within 30 days of this notification, then it is presumed valid.
What Are My Rights Under the FDCPA?
If a creditor violates the protections provided under the FDCPA, then you can take legal action. The FDCPA gives you the right to sue, and fight back against deceptive or threatening debt collection practices. Speak with an experienced attorney for more information.
In next week’s article, we will discuss what you should and should not do when speaking with a debt collector and how to combat certain illegal debt collection practices.
Contact Leaf Credit Repair if bad debts are harming your credit. We can help! Call 1-800-818-6358 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.