The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the federal law that protects individuals from abusive and harassing debt collectors. You have the right to be treated with decency, dignity and respect and if a debt collector violates these basic requirements you may be entitled to compensation.
The FDCPA provides that if a creditor is found to have violated this law, they are required to pay statutory damages of up to $1,000.00, actual damages and the attorney fees and cost of the debtor. THERE IS NO FEE IN YOUR CASE UNLESS WE RECOVER.
Here are some other important facts to consider:
- It doesn’t matter if you owe on the account that the debt collector is calling or writing you about. EVEN IF YOU OWE THE MONEY the debt collector is required to follow the law. If the collector violates the FDCPA they could be liable to you for statutory damages, actual damages, attorney’s fees and costs.
- The FDCPA prohibits many collection tactics that are common and happen all the time:
- Telling someone other than you or your spouse about your collection account without prior authorization from you
- Calling you at work if you have told them not to call you there.
- Multiple phone calls throughout the day
- Calling you on your cell phone if you haven’t given them permission to do so
- The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from making false statements to you as a tactic to collect a debt.
- Implying you have committed a crime by not paying a debt
- Falsely implying they work for a credit bureau
- Misrepresenting the character, amount or legal status of the debt
- Indicating that papers that were sent or to be sent are legal papers when they are not
- Indicating that papers sent are not legal papers when they are
- The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from threatening you as a tactic to collect a debt.
- Threatening that you will be arrested if you do not pay the debt
- Threatening that they will seize or sell your property or garnish your wages, unless they or the creditor intends to do so and have the right to do it
- Threaten to take any action against you which is illegal
- Threaten to violate any law to collect the debt
- The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using deception as a tactic to collect a debt.
- Sending you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not.
- Give false credit information about you to anyone
- Using a false name unless that name is allowed by state law and is properly registered with the state, if required
- The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from treating you unfairly when attempting to collect a debt.
- Collecting any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law.
- Depositing a post-dated check more than 5 days before the date on the check, without giving you notice of when they intend to deposit it.
- Try to get a post-dated check from you in order to to threaten criminal prosecution or threaten to cash the check early.
- Make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams
- Take or threaten to take your property unless they can do so legally (for example they have already won a judgment against you in court) including wrongfully repossessing your vehicle.
- Contact you by postcard
- The FDCPA requires that a collector must apply payments on multiple debts in the order you direct. A debt collector is prohibited from applying payment you send to debts that you believe you do not owe.
Other things you should consider:
- DON’T THROW ANYTHING AWAY. You should save every letter, envelope or other document sent to you. Often times, a document you think is not important can actually make the difference in being able to protect your rights and make your case!
- WRITE DOWN NOTES following any telephone call you have with a debt collector. You should write the date, time, and who you spoke with. You should also write down as much of the conversation as you can remember. Be specific.
- SAVE EVERY VOICE MAIL MESSAGE FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR.
This is just a summary of your rights and what debt collectors are prohibited from doing and is not legal advice. To determine if a debt collector has violated the law in trying to collect a debt from you, you need to talk to an attorney familiar with this area of the law. If you have been subjected to debt collection harassment of any kind, please contact an experienced Debt Harassment attorney for a free consultation.