How the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Protects Consumers
Although federal law protects consumers from the predatory practices of debt collection agencies and debt collectors, many are unaware of their rights. To learn more about gaining control of your own dealings with debt collectors by exercising the rights granted to you by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, please contact an experienced Philadelphia debt collection abuse lawyer who can advise you.
What Does the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Cover?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) covers a wide range of activities and behaviors, including:
- Communication with debt collectors;
- The use of harassing or abusive practices by debt collectors;
- Truthfulness in communication between debt collection agencies and consumers;
- Unfair business practices; and
- Debt validation.
These protections play a key role in helping consumers combat the predatory practices of unscrupulous debt collectors. It’s important to note, however, that the FDCPA only applies to certain types of debt, including mortgages, medical debt, credit card debt, and loans taken out for personal, household, or family purposes. Notably, the FDCPA does not cover business debts and does not generally provide protection from the original creditor who initially provided a loan.
Communication with Debt Collectors
Of the protections offered by the FDCPA, control over communications with debt collectors is one of the most important, as it limits how and when debt collection agencies can contact consumers. For instance, under federal law, debt collectors cannot call consumers at inconvenient times, namely before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. Debt collectors are also prohibited from contacting consumers at work once they have been asked not to and are always barred from communicating with third parties about a person’s debt.
Harassing and Abusive Practices
Federal law also bars debt collectors from making use of abusive or harassing practices when attempting to collect on a loan. This includes a prohibition against:
- Using profane or inappropriate language;
- Making threats or using violence;
- Calling repeatedly to harass or annoy a consumer;
- Calling without properly identifying themselves as debt collectors; and
- Advertising a debt as being for sale to the public.
Keeping a log of abusive collection practices that violate the FDCPA is one of the best ways to ensure that a debt collector is held accountable for this type of behavior.
When it comes to communicating with borrowers, debt collectors are also specifically barred from making false, misleading, or deceptive representations. This means that they are not allowed to lie about the amount of a debt, whether an amount owed has exceeded the statute of limitations, or whether there are legal repercussions for not repaying a debt. Debt collection agencies are also prohibited from misrepresenting themselves by claiming to be another company, authority, or professional.
Unfair Business Practices
The FDCPA curbs more than just a debt collector’s communications, but also its behavior by prohibiting the collection of more than what a person owes on a debt under the guise of fees and interest, the solicitation of postdated checks, and threatening to take property if not permitted by law. Finally, debt collectors are required to prove that they are owed a debt before attempting to collect from a consumer. This can be achieved by sending a validation letter and if requested, a verification letter as well.
Contact Our Philadelphia Office Today
For help asserting your own right to be free of debt collection abuse, please contact dedicated debt collection abuse attorney Louis S. Schwartz at CONSUMERLAWPA.com at our Philadelphia office today.