The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
If you have fallen behind in your debt payments, creditors may hire companies who specialize in the collection of debts. To ensure that consumer debtors are protected from unfair, deceptive or abusive collection practices, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. A New York bankruptcy lawyer at Rosenberg, Musso & Weiner can help.
The FDCPA defines a debt collector as someone who regularly collects debts owed to others, which includes collection agencies, lawyers and their employees who often collect debts for their clients, as well as companies who purchase overdue debts and then attempt to collect them.
Types of debts covered by the Act:
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act covers personal, consumer, family and household debts including personal credit cards, medical bills, car loans and mortgages. It does not cover business debts.
The FDCPA protects consumers by preventing debt collectors from:
- Calling you before 8am and after 9pm.
- Contacting you if you have put that request in writing, unless they are about to start further actions, such as filing a lawsuit.
- Contacting third parties (with the exception of your spouse or attorney) about the debt, with the exception of contacting a third party to find out your home address, phone number or place of work.
- Engaging in any type of harassment such as the use of threats of violence, use profanities or obscenities, or to harass or annoy you by phone
- It prevents debt collectors from making false or misleading statements to you or a credit reporting agency.
- Sending you notices or letters that appear to be official documents from government agencies or courts, or use false company names.
- Engage in any unfair practices such as charging you interest, penalties, or fees in addition to the amount actually owed (unless State law or the contract you signed with the creditor gives them the right), threaten to take property illegally or deposit post-dated checks before the written date.In addition, it grants consumers certain rights such as:
- Allowing consumers to make a written request to stop a debt collector from contacting them, except if the debt collector is starting a new action against them such as a lawsuit.
- Requesting that payments be applied to specific debts if the collector is attempting to collect more than one debt from the consumer.
- Allowing consumers to sue collectors if they feel that the debt collector has broken the law.
Debt collectors are allowed to sue debtors in an attempt to collect. If a lawsuit is successful, the court will enter a judgment which may result in a garnishment.
If you feel a debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you can report them to the FTC and your state’s Attorney General.
For further information on the FDCPA, visit www.ftc.gov/credit.