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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Jeffrey Hyslip

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Updated on:

What is The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Introduction

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law enacted in 1977 to protect consumers from abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection techniques. Recognizing that prior laws were inadequate and inconsistent, Congress aimed to ensure effective debt collection without subjecting consumers to inhumane treatment.

Scope and Purpose

Regulating Third Party Debt Collectors and Attorneys

The FDCPA regulates third-party debt collectors and attorneys who regularly collect a debt. It does not support nonpayment of debt but ensures that consumers are treated fairly while they work to repay their debts.

Prohibitions Under the FDCPA

Third-Party Communications

To understand the FDCPA, it’s essential to review its prohibitions on third-party communications. Debt collectors are not allowed to contact friends or family members, except when they cannot reach the debtor. However, they can only call each person once and cannot disclose that the debtor owes a debt.

Unwanted Calls at Work

The FDCPA restricts debt collectors from calling consumers at work when they know or have reason to know that personal calls are not allowed or that the consumer doesn’t want to be contacted there. If the collector continues to call after being told not to, they violate the FDCPA, and the consumer may sue for damages.

Prohibitions against Idle Threats

Debt collectors are prohibited from threatening actions they are not allowed to take or don’t intend to take. For example, a debt collector who is not an attorney cannot threaten to sue the debtor.

Time of Day and Other Restrictions

The FDCPA prohibits collection calls before 8 am or after 9 pm, repetitive calls, profane language, and any conduct intended to harass, oppress, or abuse any person. This broad restriction forms the basis for many FDCPA lawsuits.

Taking Action Against Violations

Hiring an Experienced FDCPA Attorney

If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, it’s time to hire an experienced attorney to defend your rights. The FDCPA provides for up to $1,000 in statutory and, uncapped actual damages, forcing the debt collector to pay the attorney fees.