In 2010, more than 140,000 debt collection complaints were filed with the Federal Trade Commission, which has caused federal authorities to step up scrutiny of collectors. In reality, additional regulation and oversight won’t provide immediate relief for consumers being harassed or abused. However, it helps to know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDPCA) so you can take appropriate steps to protect yourself against illegal debt collection practices.
Some forbidden practices include:
Debt collectors cannot call you in the middle of the night
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot contact debtors with such frequency as to be unreasonable or considered harassment at times other than normal waking hours.
Debt collections cannot lie about their identity
Debt collectors must identify themselves as such and must clearly state that they are attempting to collect a debt and that all information obtained during the conversation will be used for that purpose.
You cannot be made to pay expired debts
Collectors may not attempt to collect on time-barred debts. Don’t fall for that scam.
Collectors cannot contact you once you’ve filed bankruptcy
This is a big reason for filing bankruptcy — make the phone calls stop. When a petition is filed on your behalf under Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, or Chapter 13 Debt Adjustment, an order of protection automatically stays, or prohibits, all collection activities. Creditors and collection agents are no longer allowed to make any calls or other attempts to collect the debt.
Debt collectors cannot talk to third parties about your debt
The only reason a collector can contact a third party about your debt is to get information to locate you.
Debt collectors cannot lie
Collectors cannot use false statements to get you to pay a debt, this includes falsely implying they are lawyers, that you have committed a crime, misrepresenting the amount of debt or lying about the legality of documents.
You cannot be arrested for non payment of debt
This is a false threat, that a surprising number of debt collectors use. Debtor’s prisons were abolished in 1833.
If you are being unduly harassed by a debt collector, you may have a valid claim against creditors who abuse the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Contact Cossitt Law to find out if you have a case.