What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
These days, it’s hard for most Americans to be completely debt free. Between home mortgages and car loans to student loans and credit cards, most people carry some form of debt. Therefore, they deal with their creditors on a regular basis. However, when people fall behind on their regularly scheduled debt payments, they will likely be hearing from their creditors. At times, these phone calls and letters can seem to go overboard, possibly verging on the border of harassment. Individuals who find themselves in such troubling circumstances should familiarize themselves with the details of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA dictates what creditors are not allowed to do in an effort to collect the money they are owed.
Simply put, the FDCPA was enacted in 1978 as a way to curb abusive practices in an effort to collect debts. It is aimed at defining the rights of consumers who are involved with debt collectors while also outlining the penalties that can be levied against creditors who violate the terms of the law.
What Are Creditors Not Allowed to Do Under FDCPA?
Here are some things that creditors are not permitted to do when trying to collect a debt, as stipulated in the FDCPA. Creditors can NOT:
- Call debtors after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m. local time
- Incessantly call debtors in a harassing or abusive manner or use profane language when communicating with debtors
- Contact debtors at their work if the debtor has told them not to or if the employer prohibits such contact
- Contact debtors who are known to be represented by a lawyer
- Disclose details of the debt to any third party, except the debtor’s lawyer or spouse
- Use any means of deception, such as stating that they are attorneys or police officers, in an effort to collect a debt
- Publish a debtor’s name or personal information of a “bad debt list”
- Provide false information about a debtor to a credit agency
Debt collectors who violate any of these elements of the FDCPA can be prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission; debtors can also file a private lawsuit against these creditors to seek damages.