The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act is a federal law that establishes a set of guidelines for debt collectors to follow when attempting to collect a debt. The FDCPA prohibits unfair, deceptive, and harassing debt collection practices. However, many collection agencies commonly commit FDCPA violations in a handful of ways.
Calling at Unusual Times
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from calling consumers at unusual times. The Act specifies that they cannot call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. These hours apply to the consumer’s time zone, not to the debt collector’s. So, if it is 10:00 p.m. in a consumer’s time zone, but only 8:00 p.m. in the debt collector’s, they are not allowed to call if they have reason to believe the consumer is in a time zone where it is after 9:00 p.m.
Using Abusive Language
Debt collectors are not allowed to use language that the natural consequence of which is to make the person who hears or reads it feel abused. Reports of collectors talking down to consumers, calling them names, and using profanities are not unheard of or surprising in today’s collection industry. Telling a consumer to get a job, calling them lazy, saying they should be ashamed of themselves for not paying their bills, and swearing are all too commonplace and are all violations of the FDCPA.
Failing to Provide Verification of Debt
Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is required to provide consumers with certain basic information when attempting to collect a debt. This includes the amount of the debt, the name of the original creditor, notice that the consumer has 30 days to dispute the debt before it is considered valid, and notice that upon written dispute of the debt the collector will provide the consumer with verification of the debt. Verification of a debt may include the original contract, itemized statements, or a judgment from a court.
Allowing a Consumer’s Phone to Ring Continuously
While the FDCPA does not currently specify how many times a debt collector may call a consumer or how many times they may let the phone ring when they do, it does say that they cannot allow a consumer’s phone to continuously ring in an attempt to annoy the consumer into paying a debt. Almost anyone who has dealt with a debt collector knows that this is one of the rules that collectors will push to the limit, oftentimes calling several times a day and even making back to back calls when the phone is not answered. If you are receiving harassing phone calls, it is best to consult with an attorney to determine if the amount of phone calls you are receiving violates the FDCPA.
Contacting Consumer’s After Being Asked to Stop
Once a consumer has notified a debt collector in writing that they no longer want to be contacted, the collector must cease all communications, except to notify the consumer that collection efforts will stop and that they may pursue other options, such as filing a lawsuit.
If a debt collector or creditor is using unfair, abusive, or deceptive practices in order to collect a debt from you, please contact our office at 1-800-219-3577, for a free, no obligation consultation.