What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) became effective in March of 1978. It was aimed at eliminating abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. It also protects reputable debt collectors from the unfair competition while encouraging consistent state action in protecting consumers from abuses in debt collection.
The FDCPA offers debtors a means for challenging payoff demands, as well as for determining the validity and accuracy of asserted debts. Most importantly, the FDCPA establishes ethical guidelines for the collection of consumer debts. Such behavior was targeted by Congress because it found that “[a]busive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and invasions of individual privacy.
Example of When and How Debt Collectors Can Contact Debtors
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations state that debt collectors are not to contact debtors at odd times. This implies that they are not to call before 8 a.m. or 9 p.m. Unless the debtor and the collector have made a plan for a call to occur outside of the good hours. In a case where a debtor tells a collector that they want to talk after work at 10 p.m. Then, the collector is allowed to make the call then. Where there is no plan, however, the debtor cannot legally call at the time, not agreed by the FDCPA. Debt collectors can also send letters, emails, or text messages to collect a debt.
Debt collectors can also attempt to reach debtors at their homes or offices. Be it as it may, if a debtor tells a bill collector, either verbally or in writing, to stop calling his place of employment, the collector is not to call that number again.
What Is Expected Of A Debt Collector
Within five days of contacting a debtor, a debt collector must send a written “validation notice” that includes:
- How much money is owed
- Name of the creditor the debt is owed to
- What to do if you think the debt is not yours.
Debtors can also stop collectors from calling their home phones. Even though they have to put the request in a letter and have it sent to the debt collector. It is advised that you send the letter via certified mail and pay for a return receipt so that you have proof that the collector received the request.
Where a bill collector does not have contact details for a debtor, they can call relatives, neighbors, or associates of the debtor to try to get the debtor’s phone number. But are not allowed to reveal any details about the debt, including the fact that they are calling from a debt collection agency. (The collector can only discuss the debt with the debtor or their spouse.) Also, debt collectors can only call third parties one time each.
Debt collectors are only allowed to tell a debtor about the debt and request payment. In some cases, collectors are allowed to work out a payment plan or settlement to help the debtor pay the bill. As earlier stated the FDCPA is designed to protect debtors from bill collectors. The law prohibits debt collectors from harassing debtors. Also, in particular, they cannot threaten bodily harm or arrest. They cannot lie or use profane or obscene language. Also, debt collectors are not allowed to threaten to sue a debtor except they truly intend to take that debtor to court.