What is the FDCPA?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 U.S.C. §1962) is a federal law enacted in 1978 to protect consumers from debt collector harassment and abuse. The law clearly outlines collection practices that are considered unfair, abusive, and deceptive.
Whether you are receiving phone calls or letters or have been sued, you have rights under the FDCPA (view the full FDCPA). Even if you owe the debt and cannot pay it or dispute the amount claimed, debt collectors must comply with the law. They are, for example, required to provide you with accurate information, produce proof of the debt upon request, and may never engage in intimidation or harassment.
Debt collectors cannot:
- Call you if you have told them to stop.
- Call you at all, once notified that you are represented by an attorney.
- Harass you by calling repeatedly.
- When calling family or friends, collectors may only call once, and only to request information on how to locate you.
- Call your family, friends, co-workers, or any others to discuss the debt.
- Call you before 8 am and after 9 pm unless you have given permission beforehand.
- Call you at any time or place which is inconvenient for you to receive such calls.
- Lie or falsely imply, in any communication, that the collector is a government agency, or serving you with papers, or that you are subject to arrest, or that you have committed a crime.
- Provide untruthful information about the debt or the amount owed.
- Threaten to harm you.
- Threaten to seize your paycheck, bank accounts, or property.
- Use obscene language in communicating with you.
- Publish your name on a 'bad debt list' (except to a credit rating agency).
- Fail to identify themselves as debt collectors in every communication.
- Demand your social security number, credit or debit card number, or bank account number.
- Fail to inform you that any information provided to them will be used to collect the debt.
- Attempt to collect a debt that is so old that it is beyond the statute of limitations, unless the consumer is told.
Debt collectors must give you the following information upon request:
- The amount of the debt.
- The name of the creditor to whom you allegedly owe the debt.
- A letter within 5 days of first communication with the consumer containing a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector.
- The letter must say that, if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.
- The letter must say that, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
If you have been subjected to harassing, deceptive, repetitive, or abusive collection practices by a debt collector, contact us for free legal help to end debt collector harassment for good.