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What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

What are the Features of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

Are there any consumer rights regarding debt collection issues? Yes, there are certain rights mentioned in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which is described further in this article.
WealthHow Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Debt collection agencies are professional organizations, dealing with debt recovery. It is a legal business activity, wherein, creditors and debt collectors take reasonable steps for recovering money from debtors, who are legally bound to repay it. As a collector, one needs to understand certain legal obligations, like communicating with debtors for a reasonable settlement, and treating them with respect and courtesy.

However, many people complain about the abusive nature of these collectors, and a call from such agencies can be annoying. Sometimes, they even threaten to take legal action, if the consumer fails to pay the owed money in time. It must be noted that, the creditor has the authority to sue the debtor, but not the agency. The agency can only recommend certain legal remedies to the creditor with regard to money collection.

What if the debt collector harasses/abuses the consumer or uses false statements? In such situations, the debtor can utilize his/her rights that have been stated under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Though the law cannot help settle the money that a debtor owes, it ascertains that the consumers are treated fairly by the collectors. Provided below is a brief overview of the consumer rights mentioned in this act.
  • Under this act, personal, family, and household debts are covered. This may include money owed for purchasing home, automobile, and medical care.
  • A debt collector cannot harass or abuse the debtor by using offensive language, cannot call frequently at unusual hours, or demoralize and embarrass them in public. The collector also cannot publish a list of debtors in any social media.
  • A debt collector cannot use any false debt statements, while collecting the money from a consumer.
  • He should not misrepresent himself as an attorney, government representative, or employee of a credit bureau, while collecting the debt.
  • A collector cannot imply that the consumer has committed a crime, when he/she fails to pay back the debt money. They are not supposed to misguide the debtor by indicating legal forms as non legal ones, and vice versa.
  • The collectors cannot threaten the consumer that he/she will be arrested in case of failure in paying the debt. They should not take legal actions such as seizing a collateral or garnishment of wage.
  • The debtor is protected against unfair practices, such as collection of an amount greater than the debt, contact by a postcard, deposition of a post-dated check, and usage of any deceptive measures.
If a person receives calls regarding debts that he/she does not owe, he can send a letter to the debt collection agency for clearing the doubt. In case, if this person believes that a debt collector has violated the law, he/she can take legal action against him by filing a case in the state or federal court. Suing a collector should be done within one year from the date of violation of the law. If the debtor wins the case, then he/she may recover the court expenses, as well as an additional amount for the damages incurred.