Debt collectors are very famous for crossing the lines and violating the federal laws in their attempts to obtain payment. They will use their most scary and intimidating tactics to recover payments from you. In most of the cases, people are not aware of the legal restrictions applicable during collections and that’s why they end up being harassed by the creditors and the collection agencies.

Following are the possible violations of the FDCPA:

  • When a collection agency is contacting a third party, they have to identify themselves with their business. If they don’t tell you the name of their company for whom they are doing the collections, it is a violation of the law. They are only required the collect the contact information of the person on whom they are doing the collections.
  • Debt collectors cannot discuss about your debts with the third parties. If they try to give your personal information or disclose your debt details, it is a violation of the law.
  • Collection agencies are allowed to contact the third party once only, unless they are requested to be called again.
  • Collection agencies cannot contact you after you are being represented by an attorney. If they are try to call you after receiving the power of attorney from your lawyer, it is a violation of the FDCPA.
  • Collection agencies are allowed to call between 8 am and 9 pm, your time. They are not allowed to contact your place of work or home after you have sent the partial cease and desist letter and requested communication in writing only.

Following cases are considered to be harassment or abuse:

  • Debt collectors harass, oppress, or abuse any person
  • Threat of Force or criminal means to harm you or your property
  • Using profane language
  • Calling repeatedly
  • Calling you without disclosing identity (“I am a debt collector attempting to collect a debt”)
  • Most of the collection agencies violating the laws are famous for presenting false and misleading information to recover the payments from the consumers. They will attempt to collect more than what is owed. In certain cases, they will use scary and intimidating tactics like they are calling from the federal bureau or the attorney’s place and if the payment is not done, they will take you to the jail, or garnish wages. Don’t be afraid if they are threatening to sue you. They are trying to blow hot air.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, if you are being forced to pay a debt that you are not complete sure of, you have the rights to dispute the debt and get the actual details from the CA. They will contact the original creditor and get info on the debt for which you have disputed.

The FDCPA is your most powerful weapon against any unfair or illegal collection practices. Each and every debt collector is required to follow the three basic rules mentioned in the FDCPA.

  • Important FDCPA Rules:

1) Legal notification letters

All collection agents and certain attorneys must comply with section 12 of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and must send the debt collection letters using the right words as mentioned in the laws. Section 807 explains the sixteen specific examples of false and misleading tactics. Anyone violating the laws can face a fine up to $1,000 per violation along with punitive damages.

2) How to take actions!

The FDCPA requires every debt collection company to follow the laws and contact the right person for their debts and collect the accurate amount. Collectors have the legal rights to locate a person by “skiptracing” but sometimes, they end up calling the wrong person because of the inaccurate information and record-keeping. It’s not illegal to contact a wrong person by mistake, but if the collection company has been well notified that they are calling the wrong person and must stop all their collection attempts, they must prohibit all their actions. In case, the collectors still continue calling the wrong person even after being informed, it is a serious violation of the federal laws, just like anyone using harassing and abusive collection tactics especially if the debtor has already disputed the validity of the debt.

  • What to do if the calls continue?

After you have sent a written dispute to the collection agency regarding the validity of the debt, the collectors must stop all collection efforts and cease all contacts until have validated the account according to terms mentioned in Section 809.

If a bill collector continues to demand payments without validating the debt, he can be sued for violating the FDCPA. The debt collectors have the room to continue all collection attempts until your written dispute is receiving by them. If you don’t dispute within the 30 days time frame, the debt will be considered valid and the might take you to the court. That’s why it’s important to send letters through certified mail with return receipt requested. You will have a proof with date and time and signature from the collection company that they have received your letter. Keep all written correspondences including envelopes and mail receipts. This information will come handy when you are filing a case against a debt collector violating the FDCPA. In most states, recording debt collector’s phone calls secretly is legal. Check with your state laws before recording the calls. To be in the safe side, always let the collector know that you are recording the conversation for legal purpose. When you have the proof, contact your state attorney general and file a complaint against the illegal company.

Bills collectors are able to validate the debts if it’s a recent delinquent account. There is every possibility of getting the correct information from the creditor. But if the debt is few years old, it becomes harder to validate because of the actual information of the debt passing from one company to another and original creditor deleting some accounts or records from their system. An original creditor will sell age old debts to junk debt buyers and thus it becomes almost tough to validate the account with accurate information. The actual information gets lost on the way. The FDCPA doesn’t require collectors to tell when a certain account was sold to another company. Therefore, different companies might call you over a period of time for the same account. Always ensure that you dispute the debt whenever you are called by a different bill collector and try to get the accurate information.

Knowledge is power. Be well versed of the FDCPA laws and your rights so that you are better prepared to deal with collection situations as they come up. Sometimes, the collectors get nasty in their collections. Don’t be intimidated! Protect yourself by being aware of the laws and report any kind of violations to your state attorney general.

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