Communications from a debt collector may be via telephone, e-mail, text message, letter, and even in person. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) does not prohibit any means of communication except postcard. There are however rules about when and where communication may occur, what the collector is allowed to say, and when they must stop communicating with you.
Prohibited Communications Under the FDCPA
The FDCPA does not allow a debt collector to contact a consumer at unusual times or unusual places. To be specific, they may not call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. your time. So if a collector is in a different time zone, where it is 8:00 a.m., but it is only 7:00 a.m. in your time zone, they may not call you without reason to believe that it is after 8:00 a.m. in your time zone. They are also specifically prohibited from contacting you at work if they know your employer does not allow personal calls. Other times or places may be considered unusual under the law even though they are not specifically mentioned in the Act.
Debt collectors are required by the FDCPA to tell consumers certain things during communications and also to refrain from saying certain things. A collector may not:
- Threaten to use violence or to commit any other illegal act
- Use profane or obscene language
- Falsely imply that a consumer has committed a crime by not paying a debt
- Lie about the amount of the debt that is owed
A debt collector must inform you that they are attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. This is sometimes known as the ‘mini Miranda' and is required by the FDCPA. Collectors are also required to provide you with basic information about the debt either during the initial communication or within five days of the initial communication if the debt has not yet been paid. This includes:
- The amount of the debt;
- The name of the company or person to whom the original debt is owed;
- Notice that you have 30 days to dispute the debt before it is assumed to be valid; and
- Notice that upon written dispute the collector will send written verification of the debt
When Must a Debt Collector Cease Communication?
A debt collector must cease all communication with a consumer upon receiving written notice that the consumer wants the collector to stop the communications or that he or she refused to pay the debt.
If you believe that a debt collector or creditor is has violated the FDCPA while attempted to collect a debt from you, you please contact our office at 1-800-219-3577, for a free, no obligation consultation.