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Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Laws

debt collection laws People in debt sometimes find they cannot pay their bills. Various circumstances like illness, death of the bread winner, accidents, etc. happen to even the most stalwart of consumers.

When the non payment escalates to the point that a debt collector enters the picture, the pressure becomes intense. Some debt collectors use unauthorized and unlawful tactics in their attempts to collect.

However, thanks to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the law is on the consumer’s side. It prohibits…

1. Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact.

2. Use of threats of violence or harm.

3. Publishing a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts unless they are sending this to a credit bureau.

4. Use obscene or profane language.

5. The repeated use of the telephone to annoy someone.

6. False statements. Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:

  • falsely imply they are attorneys or government representatives
  • falsely imply that you have committed a crime
  • falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau
  • misrepresent the amount of your debt
  • indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not
  • indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are

Debt collectors also may not state that:

  1. you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt.
  2. they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so.
  3. actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action.

Debt collectors may not:

  1. give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau.
  2. send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not.
  3. use a false name.

Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not:

  1. collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such a charge.
  2. deposit a post-dated check prematurely.
  3. use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams.
  4. take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally.
  5. contact you by postcard.

The law is actually consumer friendly and the debtor who doesn’t use it is whistling in the wind.

Comments (7)
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)
7 Existing Comments
  1. Word Hugger said:
    on September 1st at 11:31 pm

    “contact you by postcard”, wow I didn’t expect people thought they did.

  2. L. Garbera said:
    on February 14th at 05:27 pm

    Are there any court cases that detail exactly what is requred from a creditor in order to validate a debt? Is a copy of a statement all that is required?


  3. Barb said:
    on July 17th at 07:28 pm

    If you are getting calls from the bank that you have your debt with — DO NOT ignore those calls. You are only making things worse for yourself. Work with them before it gets sent to a collection agency or even an attorney.

  4. Barb said:
    on July 17th at 07:29 pm

    I just saw the post above — If you get a post card referring to your debt – That is illegal and inviolation of the FDCPA!

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    on December 25th at 04:28 am

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  7. Debra J. Cullen said:
    on July 1st at 08:12 pm

    Thank you VERY much for your site. This has been quite helpful. I have been a victim of SEVERAL Unfair collection laws by a rep. at WACKOVIA AUTO LOANS DEPT. How do I get intouch with ANYONE who can help me? This rep. refused to allow me to speak to a supervisor about his absurd behavior, after he called me 3 days after arrangements had been made, BY HIM, on an account that was ONLY 40 day delinquant! Can anyone help me???