If you have fallen behind on your bills, you are probably being contacted by debt collectors. The debt collection industry is known for using harassing tactics to persuade debtors into paying their debt. As a result, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a law that was passed prohibiting collection agents from using unfair, misleading or abusive practices to collect money from borrowers.
Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is anyone who routinely works to recover debts owed to others. Thus, the definition includes collection agencies, lawyers who regularly collect debts and debt-purchasers who try to collect delinquent accounts.
The FTC website provides some guidance in the types of tactics that are prohibited by the FDCPA, including:
- Unfair practices. A debt collector must act fairly with you. This means that the collector cannot attempt to collect extra amounts of money that are not allowed by your contract or under the law. It also includes actions such as depositing a post-dated check early, threatening to seize your property when it cannot be done illegally, or contact you using a postcard.
- Harassment. If a collector harasses by threatening violence, using profane language, or repeatedly calling you (especially at inconvenient times) to annoy you into paying the debt, it is a violation of the law.
- Deceptive statements. Debt collectors are prohibited from lying to you about who they are, the total that you owe, or who they work for or represent. They cannot falsely claim that you are guilty of a crime. The paperwork they send you must be truthful. Also, a collector cannot provide false credit information about you to third-parties, including the credit reporting bureaus.
It is important to understand that even if you are pretty certain you owe the debt to the plaintiff, you are still entitled to be treated fairly and with respect. If you believe a debt collector is violating your rights and harassing you, we can help. Whatever you do, don’t ignore a collection lawsuit. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you stop the harassment or fight a debt collection lawsuit, contact one of our seasoned bankruptcy attorneys to schedule your appointment.