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When you fall behind on your bills, it doesn’t take long before you are being harassed by debt collectors. Whether you owe the debt or not, it is important that you understand your rights under the law. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is an important law that prohibits debt collection agents from using unfair, deceptive or abusive tactics to get consumers to pay their past due accounts.
The FDCPA specifically applies to “debt collectors” which is defined as an individual or entity who routinely collects debts owed to others. This means that the statutes apply to collection agencies, lawyers who regularly collect debts and debt-buyers.
According to the FTC website, the following are examples of prohibited collection actions:
Harassment. A collector cannot harass a consumer by threatening violence, using profane language, or calling the debtor repeatedly to annoy him into making a payment. A debt collector is prohibited from threatening to publish the consumer’s name on a list of people who refuse to pay their debts.
Unfair practices. There are a variety of ways a collector can engage in unfair collection practices. Common examples are attempting to collect additional fees that are not allowed under the contract or by law, depositing post-dated checks early, or making threats to seize the borrower’s property when the collector has no such right.
Deceptive statements. A debt collector is prohibited from lying about who they are or who they work for. A collector must truthfully tell you the amount you owe. Further, the collector cannot lie about actions they can take against you or falsely claim they will have you arrested for not paying your debt. Finally, a collection agent is prohibited from providing false credit information to any other parties, including credit reporting bureaus.
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Consumers deserve to be treated with respect and honesty. If a debt collector is taking any of the above actions against you or is otherwise harassing you, contact the legal team at Faro & Crowder, PA, for the advice and guidance you need.
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.