Anyone who has fallen behind on a bill knows how stressful collection calls can be. Debt collectors are persistent and often test the limits of the law if not outright breaking them. In order to protect consumers from unethical debt collection practices, legislators passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Learning about this law can empower you to stand up for your rights.
Who the Act Applies To
The FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collectors. Original creditors are not bound by the FDCPA—unless they operate under a different name that implies that they are a third party attempting to collect your debt. Debt collection agencies and collection attorneys are bound by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
When Collectors Can Contact Debtors
In the past, debt collectors used a number of unethical and abusive tactics to attempt to collect a debt. They would call extremely early in the morning or very late at night to inconvenience debtors and try to harass them into payment. Under the FDCPA, collectors cannot contact debtors at inconvenient times. They cannot call before 8 am or after 9 pm unless the debtor specifically requests or schedules a return call during that time.
How Collectors Can Reach Out to Debtors
Beyond calling during appropriate hours, debt collectors can contact debtors via email, text, or letter. They may call debtors’ home phone numbers, cell phone numbers, or work phone numbers. They must cease work contact if requested. They must also stop calling debtors at home or via cell phone if the request is made in writing.
What Debt Collectors Are Authorized to Do
One of the most important aspects of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is the limits it places on a collector’s actions. Legally, debt collectors can only inform you of your debt and request payment. They may also be authorized to accept a settlement or set up a payment plan. However, they cannot harass you or threaten to have you arrested. They may not threaten a lawsuit unless the company is truly going to sue you. Furthermore, they are forbidden from using profanity or lying to you about the amount you owe.
Your Options If Your Rights Are Violated
Despite the FDCPA, debt collectors are known for acting illegally or unethically while trying to secure payment. When a violation occurs, the affected debtor may be able to sue and recover damages. You may be able to claim damages for emotional distress, statutory damages, and legal fees.
If a debt collector has violated your rights while trying to get you to make a payment, you need a lawyer who’s ready to advocate on your behalf. Learn more about your options now and contact Ciment Law Firm, PLLC.