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Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was established to protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices.

Bill Collector

Not all debt collectors follow the law. Some harass, abuse and even lie in order to bully you to pay your debt. But under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, those practices are against the law. Having unpaid debt can be one of the most stressful things some of us have to deal with on a daily basis. If you have ever been harassed by a debt collector, you understand how much this stress can be compounded. Many times, people feel forced to file bankruptcy because they are bullied by debt collectors. If filing bankruptcy is your only option, which is the case for many people, you still have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Pub. L. 95-109; 91 Stat. 874, codified as 15 U.S.C. § 1692 –1692p, approved on September 20, 1977 (and as subsequently amended) is a consumer protection amendment, establishing legal protection from abusive debt collection practices, to the Consumer Credit Protection Act, as Title VIII of that Act. The statute’s stated purposes are: to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information’s accuracy. The Act creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the Act. It is sometimes used in conjunction with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act defines a debt collector as “any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business for the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another.” It generally applies to non-internal collectors for an original creditor. However, there are some states that have a wider range of who is protected and by which creditors. Debt collectors are companies/agencies that buy defaulted debt from collectors, with the sole purpose of collecting the original unpaid debt.The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits abusive and deceptive practices of debt collectors. This includes the following:

Hours. Debt collectors are not allowed to contact you by phone before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. local time.
Failing to cease communication. Upon written request, a debt collector must stop contacting you. This is especially true in cases where the debt collector has filed a lawsuit against you.
Repetitive and continued harassment. A debt collector is not allowed to harass, annoy or abuse you in any way through telephone communication. They are not allowed to use abusive language or profanity of any kind during these communications.
Calling you at work. Once advised this is your place of employment, collectors are prohibited from continuing to call you there. You must let them know this is unacceptable. Further, they are not allowed to communicate with any third party, such as your employer, neighbors, family or friends for any information about you other than contact information.
An Attorney’s involvement. Once informed you have an attorney, the debt collectors are not allowed to contact you any further.
Request for validation. A request for validation is a written request for verification of your debt. Once a request for validation is initiated, they are not allowed to contact you within the 30 day validation period.
Misrepresentation or deceit. Debt Collectors are not allowed to lie or misrepresent themselves as attorneys or police officers. They also can not threaten legal action or arrest if they are not intending to follow through on any of these actions.
Public bashing. The debt collectors are not allowed to publicly post your name or address on any bad debt list or publication. They are also not allowed to publicly embarrass you through any form of communication.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act restricts the coverage to individuals, families and household debt. Therefore, businesses are not covered under this act. Definitions, and who is covered, can change from time to time and from state to state. Speaking with an attorney where you live can help you determine how you are covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in your state. He can provide you information for you in your specific circumstance to free you from creditor harassment. Don Harris is an experienced bankruptcy attorney with the ability to assist you in any location here in New Mexico. Know your rights. Do not allow debt collectors to practice unscrupulous methods and bully you.

We are a debt relief agency and have practiced bankruptcy law for a combined 50 years. Our services include helping individuals and couples file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. 

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