Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
As if carrying and paying off debt in a timely manner weren’t enough of a challenge, there’s little disputing that things get worse when debt collectors start calling.
It is common for people with delinquent debt to feel a combination of embarrassment and fear, and collection agencies know this all too well. Debt collection agencies pursue unpaid debts on behalf of creditors while utilizing a variety of tactics that include persistent phone calls, menacing letters, and the possibility of lawsuits that can result in wage garnishment or asset seizures.
Given the inherent stress and unpleasantness involved, there are few experiences less appealing than having to deal with debt collectors. However, there is some good news.
The Fair Debt Collection Pract
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a Federal law that provides consumers valuable protections from potentially predatory practices of collection agencies.
For starters, collection agencies are prohibited from calling your home during inconvenient times (prior to 8am or after 9pm) and from calling your workplace at all – once you have instructed them in writing not to do so.
If you’re represented by an attorney, the FDCPA mandates that debt collectors communicate with the attorney, not you. Debt collectors are also prohibited from speaking with third parties regarding your debt – this includes your employer, family members, neighbors and friends.
Collection Agency Harassment
In addition to defining boundaries as to when and with who collection agencies can maintain communication, the FDCPA imposes strict restrictions against potentially abusive practices.
For instance, collection agencies are prohibited from calling repeatedly and harassing in attempts to coerce payment, nor can they use profanity or any threats of violence. Additionally, debt collectors cannot call to collect debt without first identifying themselves as collectors. As a general rule, it is a good idea to keep a written record of all communications with debt collectors, including the date, time and substance of all phone conversations.
This way, you’ll be prepared should it become necessary to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The most recent report from the CFPB indicates that 81,500 debt collection complaints were filed in 2018.
Rights Granted Under the FDCPA
Under the FDCPA, consumers are granted the right to verify and dispute any debt that a collection agency is pursuing collection against. Within five days of initial contact, a collection agency is legally required to notify a debtor in a written debt validation letter of the right to dispute the debt.
Additionally, the debtor is entitled to verify the debt – to request the name and address of the original creditor, along with the amount owed. Under the FDCPA, the collection agency must provide this information within thirty days of the debtor receiving the initial debt validation letter if it seeks to legally pursue debt repayment. If the collection agency cannot provide this information, it cannot legally continue to call a debtor.
Under the FDCPA, a debtor also maintains the right to dispute a debt within thirty days of being initially informed of it. During those initial thirty days, a collector cannot pursue further collection until the dispute is settled. It is also illegal for collection agencies to threaten to garnish wages if the debtor lives in a state that prohibits wage garnishment.
Other prohibited actions under the FDCPA include that collection agencies cannot threaten to have a debtor arrested, and they cannot threaten to take legal action when they have no intention of following through.
Additional Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Provisions
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using any false or misleading statements in attempts to recover delinquent debts. Debt collectors must be truthful regarding the amount of debt – and whether it is beyond the statute of limitations for the state in which you reside – it could be that you don’t owe anything at all!
They can not exaggerate any legal consequences for non-payment of the debt and they cannot misrepresent themselves as a legal authority. They also cannot seek to solicit more than is owed on a debt by attaching additional fees. They cannot seize or threaten to seize property if a legal judgment has not been issued.
Debt collectors are also prohibited from soliciting post-dated checks in an attempt to coerce payment. If a debt collector breaches any of these rights granted under the FDCPA, be sure to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Handling my business debt was not something I looked forward to
Handling my business debt was not something I looked forward to. But United Settlement was so patient with my questions and helped me figure out how to handle my debt as a small business owner. I qualified...
I didn't even know what type of interest rates there were and how those affected my debt overall
When I contacted United Settlement, I didn't even know what type of interest rates there were and how those affected my debt overall. So, when I went to go buy a new house, I was shocked to find out that...
Debt settlement is what we signed up for when we were interested in using United Settlement
Debt settlement is what we signed up for when we were interested in using United Settlement. We needed a company to negotiate on our behalf to help us reduce the total amount of debt we owed, and we were...
I had no idea that I could lower my credit card interest rates. But when I contacted United Settlement, they explained to me that I could negotiate my interest rates down lower along with my payoff balance....
If you have ever had an unmanageable amount of credit card debt
If you have ever had an unmanageable amount of credit card debt, you know how ridiculous it is to try to pay it off. In my situation, I did not want to wait until the last moment to get this debt under...
Medical debt is damaging to your long-term credit
Medical debt is damaging to your long-term credit. That is what we were dedicated to managing our debt as soon as we got our medical bills from an unexpected surgery that our insurance did not cover. I...
Finding a good alternative to business debt relief is far from easy
Finding a good alternative to business debt relief is far from easy. As a company, we have spent years trying to find a good solution to our business’ debt, because if we can get it out of the way we...
I had no clue that a debt consulting company could provide guidance
I had no clue that a debt consulting company could provide guidance and what type of loans you should take out. I was thrilled by the communication I had with United Settlement. They did not hesitate to...
Buying a new vehicle should not stress you out to the point that you cry every night to go to sleep
Buying a new vehicle should not stress you out to the point that you cry every night to go to sleep. But that was the point I was at before I contacted United Settlement. These guys were professionals at...
I knew I needed to file bankruptcy before I even contacted the team at United Settlement
I knew I needed to file bankruptcy before I even contacted the team at United Settlement. My biggest issue was how to file and also what type of bankruptcy I should file. A lot of people do not know that...
Who would have thought that auto loan debt can take such a toll on a family
Who would have thought that auto loan debt can take such a toll on a family? Well, we discovered how that could happen when our family bought two new vehicles. We thought we could afford the payments, but...
Why go bankrupt when you do not have to?
Why go bankrupt when you do not have to? That was my thinking when I decided to hire United Settlement. I wanted them to help me get out from underneath my credit card and auto loan debt. They were very...
Who knew that you could get credit card debt relief
Who knew that you could get credit card debt relief just by reaching out to a credit card consolidation company? I did not. But I had a friend recommend United Settlement to help me get through my debt...
We had a revolving credit card debt that just wouldn’t quit
We had a revolving credit card debt that just wouldn’t quit. This in turn made it difficult to try to buy a house. Our credit card debt literally held us back from moving forward in life. But our goal...
There comes a time when you realize you need help with your debt consolidation
There comes a time when you realize you need help with your debt consolidation. And that time came for me last year. I contacted United Settlement to help me manage my debt issues. They were friendly and...
Small business loan debt was crippling our company.
Small business loan debt was crippling our company. We have spent many years building our business, but we had to take out several loans to get through a slow period. Fortunately, those loans helped, but...
If you have ever run a business before, you know how quickly you can get into debt
If you have ever run a business before, you know how quickly you can get into debt. That’s right, you can be trying to live your best life and end up in a situation you cannot get yourself out of. That...
Our credit card interest rates were astronomical
Our credit card debt was not really that bad, but our credit card interest rates were astronomical, which meant we could not get out from under our debt as quickly as we would have liked. We used United...
I had no idea that I would qualify for business debt consolidation loans
I had no idea that I would qualify for business debt consolidation loans. But United Settlement walked me through what that process was like and gave me insight into how to manage my future debt so that...
The last thing I wanted to do is file for business bankruptcy
The last thing I wanted to do is file for business bankruptcy, but that was before I knew how common it was and how little it actually affected my personal credit. United Settlement informed me of that...