Debt Collectors and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Whether due to unexpected or personal circumstances, individuals can become overwhelmed with debt they can no longer handle. Understandably, creditors have a right to claim any money they are owed. These creditors can resort to unethical or illegal behavior when seeking repayment. As a result, individuals subject to harassment may incur additional emotional pressure on top of the stress associated with being unable to pay off their debts. Fortunately, legal measures such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects individuals from creditors who resort to harassment in an attempt to collect what they are owed. According to the FDCPA, debt collectors are required to send all information in writing regarding any claims they make against an individual within five days of initial contact.

The FDCPA also gives individuals the right to dispute any claims against them by submitting a written letter to the creditor. However, though intended to protect debtors, the FDCPA gives creditors the right to renew a claim if they submit proof of the debt. Seeking payment over the phone is a common practice by many creditors. However, the FDCPA  places restrictions on debt collectors regarding what they can say or do over the phone. Some of these restrictions include using abusive or obscene language, harassing with repeated calls, calling between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. or at work without a debtor’s permission, discussing debts with others apart from an attorney, making false threats, claiming to be an attorney or law enforcement official, and misrepresenting the amount owed.

It is recommended that individuals keep records of all conversations and voicemails as well as a record of the day and time collectors call, the name of the agency, and the amount they state one owes.

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