The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from unfair, deceptive or abusive debt collection practices. It was enacted in response to evidence that a number of abusive and deceptive debt collection practices had been spotted in the marketplace.
The law limits the time and place debt collectors can contact you, the types of language they can use, and their representations. Consumers can also file lawsuits against debt collectors who violate the FDCPA.
1. Telephone Calls
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) covers debt collectors who work for creditors, in-house debt collection agencies, and attorneys. If you have a credit card, mortgage loan, or medical bill, these are all considered consumer debts and are subject to the FDCPA.
The FDCPA is a federal law that sets standards for the way debt collectors can collect money on these bills. It also prevents debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive practices to collect the money.
A debt collector may contact you by telephone about your debt. This can be a voicemail message left on your telephone, or it can be a call to your home, office, or cell phone.
Regardless of the method used to communicate, a debt collector must comply with SS 1006.6(b)(1) and (b)(4) when it contacts you by telephone about your debts. This includes contacting you at any unusual time or place, if you haven’t agreed to those times and places.
In addition, a debt collector may not contact you at your place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that your employer prohibits you from receiving communications about your debts at work. This rule applies even if the debt collector has a legitimate business purpose and even if the collection is not prohibited by the employer’s rules.
If a debt collector does not comply with these rules, the debt collector is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The law allows you to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or sue the debt collector in court within a year of when the violation occurred.
A debt collector must also give you a written notice before they start collecting on your debts. The notice must contain specific information about how they will communicate with you, including the name of your creditor and the amount you owe on the debt. The notice must also include an easy-to-use method to opt out of further communications.
2. Written Notices
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects consumers by restricting certain conduct that debt collectors can use in connection with the collection of debt. For example, they can’t contact you at an unusual or inconvenient time or place, threaten to harm you, or use obscene language.
The FDCPA also requires debt collectors to communicate with you in a manner that’s consistent with your preferences. For instance, they can’t use text messaging or social media to communicate with you unless you opt in. You can also ask them to stop contacting you altogether.
Another important rule under the FDCPA is the requirement to provide written notices to consumers informing them of their rights under the law. A written notice must be delivered within 5 business days of a consumer’s request.
In addition to sending a written notice, a debt collector must also send you an electronic notification of your rights under the FDCPA. This can be in the form of an email, a text message, or a social media post. If a debt collector doesn’t send you this notice, they can be held liable for violating the law.
Among other requirements, debt collectors must notify consumers of their right to dispute the validity of their debt or obtain original-creditor information about their debt. This means that they must provide the consumer with 30 calendar days, called a “validation period,” to dispute the debt or obtain this information.
After the consumer receives the validation notice, they can then dispute the debt or request the original creditor’s name and address. If they do, the debt collector must cease further collection of the debt until it sends them the name and address of the original creditor, if the current one is different than the one the consumer originally owed.
The FDCPA also prohibits debt collectors from using obscene or profane language, and they must not publish a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay their debts. They can also make threatening or harassing phone calls, but they can’t do so repeatedly or continuously. If you have any questions about how to protect yourself against abusive debt collectors, you can get help from the Federal Trade Commission or your local consumer protection agency.
3. Court Summonses
A court summons is a legal form that is issued to notify a person of a lawsuit and when they need to show up in court. It is typically served by a sheriff or other authorized process server.
The summons should include the name and address of the plaintiff, as well as a case or file number that will be used by the judge for the proceedings. It should also give the defendant enough time to respond or appear in court.
In most civil cases, the summons will also include a complaint that sets out certain factual allegations against the defendant that support the plaintiff’s case. The court will use the facts from the complaint to decide the case and may decide the matter without the defendant in attendance if they do not appear or answer the summons.
Some states have their own rules governing the use of court summonses and service of process. These rules can vary greatly and should be reviewed by an attorney before proceeding.
If you receive a Summons, it is important to read it carefully and follow all the instructions. Failure to do so could make it harder for you to win your case.
A court summons is a necessary part of a lawsuit and it is a criminal offense to ignore or fail to comply with one. In addition, a debt collector cannot use false, deceptive or misleading representations to collect a debt.
When a creditor serves a summons on you, it is important to understand that the court has the power to seize your property if you do not comply. The only way to prevent this is to treat the lawsuit seriously, file a response in time and do not ignore it or face consequences.
If you believe that your rights have been violated by a debt collector, contact the CFPB to complain. It is easy to do and the agency will follow up on all complaints.
4. Third-Party Disclosures
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prevents debt collectors from using deceptive and abusive practices to collect consumer debts. These practices include calling at odd hours, repeatedly contacting consumers, and threatening legal action that does not actually exist. They also can’t reveal the existence of debts to third parties.
The FDCPA’s main enforcement mechanism is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It works to enforce the law through a variety of methods, including investigations and lawsuits. In 2016, the CFPB handled more than 88,000 complaints about FDCPA violations.
In addition, the CFPB offers advice on how to file a complaint about an FDCPA violation. It also provides information on how to find a lawyer who can help you with a consumer law suit.
Several other laws, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s debt collection regulations, are intended to prohibit debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive practices. For example, the Federal Trade Commission requires debt collectors to give consumers certain disclosures before they begin collecting on a consumer’s outstanding balance. These disclosures must be made in writing and are enforceable.
These regulations are known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Rule (Rule). The Rule was updated in late 2021 to modernize the law and make it more accessible for consumers. However, there are concerns that the new rules may create privacy issues for consumers.
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors must limit how they contact consumers and can’t disclose your information to third parties unless you authorize it. For example, a debt collector can’t call you more than seven times within a seven-day period or after you give them written notice that you don’t want to be contacted.
This prohibition applies to any debt collector, not just those who are hired by a creditor to collect a defaulted debt. In a 2007 case, the court vacated the Marshals Service’s grant of summary judgment because a “‘debt collector’s conduct was so pervasive and so invasive that it would have violated the FDCPA even without its disclosures'”.
If you have questions about your rights under the FDCPA, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local consumer law firm. They can also offer you assistance if you are considering filing a suit against a debt collection agency.