7 Ways the FDCPA Protects Consumers Against Illegal Practices
When confronted with a debt collector or agency, consumers should have quick and easy access to the laws that govern the collection of a debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, controls the behavior of debt collectors or agencies in the activities of which the debt is collected.
The FDCPA is a clear set of laws that dictate what debt collectors can and cannot say in the collection of a debt. In basic terms, the fair debt collection act is a collection of rules that prevent the harassment or abuse of consumers for the purposes of collecting a debt.
The FDCPA covers the actions of third party collection agencies and protects the consumer from harassment, misrepresentation and abuse. In 2015, the total debt owed by consumers in the United States reached $712 billion with $150 billion of the debt assigned to third party agencies for collection.
With over 4,100 debt collection agencies operating in the United States, consumers should be aware of the most common types of FDCPA violations. Debt collection is a business that is expected to experience tremendous growth in the future. With the aid of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, consumers can avoid the illegal methods that agencies may employ in the collection of debts.
Misrepresentation of the debt: Debt collectors may not misrepresent the amount owed on the debt or ask the consumer to pay above the owed amount.
Harassment: Debt collectors may not continuously call the consumer with the intent to annoy or harass.
Threatening Behavior: Collectors may not use violence or threaten the use of violence in an attempt to collect the debt.
Threatening Action They Cannot Take: Debt collectors may not threaten to file a lawsuit, garnish wages or take any action against the consumer of which they don’t intend to follow through.
Not Provide The ‘Mini Miranda’: In any communication, verbal or otherwise, debt collectors must advise consumers that the communication is solely for the purposes of collecting the debt and that information obtained will be used for only that purpose.
Ceasing Communications: If advised in writing to cease communications by a consumer, a debt collector must comply.
Reasonable Hours of Contact: Contact should be initiated by debt collectors between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm during the consumer’s time zone.
Required conduct for debt collectors is as follows:
- Identity and Purpose: Collectors must recite the mini-Miranda and identify themselves as a debt collector.
- Provide Creditor Information: Collectors must provide consumers with the name and address of the original creditor within thirty days of receipt of a written request.
- Offer Dispute Related Information: Within a period of five days, debt collectors must notify consumers of the right to dispute the validity of the debt.
- Debt Verification: Upon receipt of a request to verify a debt, collectors must provide consumers with the information requested or cease all collection efforts until the request is fulfilled.
In essence, the FDCPA comprises a variety of tactics that are prohibited in the collection of a debt by third-party agencies. The average American household owes a total debt of $5,700 and with the number of collection agencies on the rise, consumers should know the rights granted them under the FDCPA.
Hopefully, you will never be in a position in which you need the legal services of a debt collection harassment attorney, but in the event that you do, please give Hoag Law Firm a call or complete your online Free Case Evaluation. A free consultation can help you understand your rights. With honest advice and an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney at your side, you can recover the largest possible settlement and get back to living your life.