The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that regulates the actions of debt collectors and protects consumers from abusive and deceptive debt collection practices. Despite the existence of this law, some debt collectors still engage in prohibited activities, leaving consumers feeling harassed, intimidated, and even helpless.
Here are some of the most common violations of the FDCPA that consumers should be aware of:
1. Harassment and intimidation: Debt collectors are not allowed to use abusive or threatening language, nor can they call you repeatedly, especially at odd hours. They also cannot use profanity or make false statements, such as threatening to have you arrested or sue you if they don't have the legal authority to do so. 2. Misrepresentation: Debt collectors cannot pretend to be someone they are not, such as a law enforcement officer or a government official. They also cannot misrepresent the amount you owe, the consequences of not paying, or the identity of the creditor. 3. Unfair practices: Debt collectors cannot charge you additional fees or interest, beyond what is allowed by law, nor can they deposit a post-dated check before the date you wrote on it. They also cannot threaten to take actions that are illegal or not intended, such as seizing your property without a court order. 4. Contacting third parties: Debt collectors cannot disclose the existence of your debt to anyone else, except for your spouse or attorney. They also cannot contact your employer, except to verify your employment, and cannot contact your friends, family, or neighbors except to obtain your contact information. 5. Failure to validate debt: If you dispute a debt, a debt collector must provide you with verification of the debt, including the name and address of the original creditor, the amount owed, and any other relevant information. Failure to provide this information is a violation of the FDCPA. 6. Ignoring cease and desist requests: If you send a letter to a debt collector asking them to stop contacting you, they are required to do so, except to inform you that they will take a specific action, such as filing a lawsuit. Ignoring your request is a violation of the FDCPA.
If you believe that a debt collector has violated any of these provisions, you may be entitled to damages, including actual damages and statutory damages of up to $1,000. You may also be entitled to have your attorney’s fees and court costs paid by the debt collector.
It is important to keep accurate records of all communication with debt collectors, including dates, times, and the content of the conversation. You should also report any violations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or your state Attorney General’s office.
Remember, you have rights under the FDCPA, and debt collectors must follow the law. If you feel that your rights have been violated, don’t hesitate to take action and seek help from Kazerouni Law Group, APC.