Fair Debt Collection Practices Act SummaryFair Debt Collection Practices Act - (15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p, as amended)
What is required?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers by regulating the actions of certain debt collectors in their attempts to collect a consumer debt.
Who is regulated?
Common examples of debt collectors which tend to be regulated by this law include collectors who are hired by credit card companies or large retail stores to collect a debt which the company decided was on its books too long, collection agencies who purchase debts from the original creditor, collectors who bought a debt from a bank or a finance company, law firms which were hired to collect a debt for a company, and collectors which use a different name than the company you originally owed the debt to.
When does the law apply?
The FDCPA applies when these third-party debt collectors attempt to collect a consumer debt from a person. A consumer debt is a debt which was incurred for personal, family or household services. This includes a wide variety of debts such as one created when a person purchases a computer on a credit card or buys insurance for a home. The law applies to debt collection phone calls, written communication or reporting the debt to a credit reporting agency.
- If a debt collector calls you to attempt to collect a debt, the laws dictate they must tell you that the call is from a debt collector. This also applies if the collector leaves a voice message.
- If you have disputed the debt in writing, it is required to report that the debt is disputed to the credit reporting agency.
- The debt collector is required to give you certain notices in its initial communication or send it within five days afterwards. This information includes:
- The amount of debt
- The creditor’s name (the name of the company, etc. who the debt is owed to).
- A notice that they will assume the debt is valid (real, not already paid, etc.) if you don’t dispute the validity of the debt within thirty days after you receive their notice
- A notice that they will send you verification (proof) of the debt or a copy of a judgment against you if you write them within thirty days after you receive their notice to tell them that you dispute the debt.
- A notice that they will give you the original creditor’s name and address if it is different from the creditor who currently owns the debt (if you write them within thirty days after you receive their notice to request this).
The debt collector is not allowed to
- Lie or deceive you when it tries to collect a debt.
- Call you repeatedly with the intent to harass you.
- Threaten violence or use profane language which would naturally “abuse” you.
- Tell your friends, neighbors, or employers that you owe a debt
- Threaten to sue you when they do not intend to do so.
- Charge you interest or fees that are not expressly authorized by the agreement that created the debt (such as the credit card agreement) or permitted by law.
- Threaten to deposit or actually deposit a post-dated check before the date you wrote on the check.
- Contact you at an unusual place or time that the collector knows or should know to be inconvenient (such as a call at 5am).
- Send you information on a postcard.
Is there a solution?
If a collector violates the FDCPA and a lawsuit against them is successful, the consumer could be entitled to recover actual damages, statutory damages up to $1,000, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 9, 2013