Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Debt collectors have become an issue that many people have to face. Given the current state of our nation’s economy, many people find themselves unemployed, underemployed, or simply in a position in which they are unable to pay all their bills. This is a position in which no one wants to be, but have ended up in as a result of circumstances. While you may owe the debt legitimately, you are not without rights. Other times, companies may not have the correct records and send your account off to collections erroneously. Following is a list of protections on your side, no matter how you ended up having to deal with a debt collector.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is a federal law that limits what debt collectors can and cannot do. The FDCP covers consumer debt. These are debts that are incurred by a consumer primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. It does not cover business, agricultural, or corporate debt. The FDCPA covers third party collectors or, more simply, people trying to collect debts you owe to others. For example, if you owed money to Acme, Inc., a person calling from Acme would not be covered. However, if Acme hired another company to pursue the debt, the FDCPA would apply.

This law allows you to dispute the amount or basis of the debt. You can send a written notice to the collection agency demanding verification. The debt collector must cease all efforts to collect the debt until they send the verification. If the collector proceeds without providing verification, they are in violation of the law.

The FDCPA governs who may be contacted about debts, and when they can be contacted. Calls must be made between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM in the time zone in which you live. They may call you at work unless you tell them they cannot. They may not discuss the debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, any cosigner, or your attorney.

Further, debt collectors are prohibited from the following behaviors, among other things:

•    Mailing you notice by postcard of a past due debt;
•    Threatening to refer your account to an attorney or to harm your credit rating, or threats of repossession or garnishment, without actual intention of action on the threat;
•    When placing a telephone call to you at work, informing your employer of the purpose of the call, unless first asked by the employer;
•    Using profane language or insults;
•    Threatening you with arrest if you do not pay the debt.

If a debt collector violates any rule of the FDCPA, you have the right to file a complaint against them with the Federal Trade Commission as well as file suit against the debt collector. If successful, you can recover any damages you incurred as well as an additional award of up to $1,000.00, plus attorney’s fees.

Please remember to call your LegalShield Provider firm if you need any help. We are here for you.

Attorney Andrew W.R. Nielsen