The FDCPA: 7 Things Consumers Need to Know

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, most commonly known as the FDCPA, is a law that keeps third-party debt collectors from using deceptive or unfair practices when contacting debtors for repayment of a debt. This law is only applicable to third-party collection agencies and it ensures that collectors working for agencies do not harass or deceive consumers to collect a debt. The original creditor is the institution that provided the loan and the collectors it employs are not subject to the terms of the FDCPA.

Listed below are details on the FDCPA that consumers need to know in order to be prepared for contact with a collection agency. If a consumer finds themselves contacted by a third party agency, the best defense is preparation so that the debt collector does not violate the law.

The Mini Miranda

When debt collectors contact consumers, they recite what is referred to as the ‘Mini Miranda’. This is a statement made by the collector that informs the consumer that the communication is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.

Hours of Contact

The FDCPA prohibits collectors from contacting debtors at unreasonable times during the day. The law states that a collector may only reach a debtor between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00pm. Contact outside of these times is prohibited unless the debtor has given the collector permission to do so.

Communications

The collector may not call a debtor if the debtor has retained the services of a debt collection attorney and has previously informed the collector. The collector is not legally allowed to contact the debtor at their place of employment if the debtor has previously informed the collector of this. If collection calls are prohibited at work, inform the agency to place a notation of this on the collection account.

Harassment or Threats

The FDCPA prevents debt collectors from using harassing language or threats when attempting to collect a debt. The collector may not use violence or threaten to do so in their collection efforts. In addition, the collector is prohibited from using profanity or obscenities in their communications with the debtor.Collectors cannot repeatedly contact the debtor when attempting to resolve the debt. This is considered harassment and is a violation of the Fair Debt Act.

Misrepresentation

It is illegal for a bill collector to misrepresent themselves when contacting a debtor for repayment of a debt. The collector may not lie to the debtor and claim that they are part of a law enforcement or government agency. The collector may not lie about the amount due on the debt or state that the debtor will be thrown into jail or prison for failure to pay. Also, the FDCPA prevents collectors from making threats that they don’t intend on keeping, such as selling the debt, litigating on the account or repossessing the collateral if the agency has no intention of doing so.

Stopping a Collection Agency from Making Contact

Debtors have the right to stop a collection agency from making contact with them at any time. To cease a collector’s contact, the debtor must send a certified letter to the agency asking them to cease all communications. The collector is legally obligated to cease all contact with the debtor if a letter is received instructing them to do so. The exceptions are: the collector may contact the debtor to inform them that contact will stop and to advise the debtor if any legal action will be taken on the account.

Note: If the debtor wishes to cease contact with the collection agency, it doesn’t mean that the debt is not owed. In fact, the agency may sue the debtor in order to recover the debt.

Litigation and Garnishments

The collector may use some determining factors in ascertaining whether or not they wish to litigate against the debtor. These include the amount of the debt, if the debtor owes any real property and if the debtor is employed. If the debt exceeds the cost of litigation, the debtor owns a home and is employed; the collector may seek to litigate in order to recover the debt.

In litigating on the account, the collector may attach a lien to the debtor’s property and/or garnish the debtor’s wages. Not subject to garnishments are Social Security benefits, SSI, VA benefits and retirement funds. 

FDCPA violations are taken seriously by the FTC and should not be left unchecked by consumers. In essence, consumers are protected against debt collectors who lie or misrepresent themselves or the debt in order to make payment arrangements. The Fair Debt Collections Act covers debts that include mortgage, auto loans, credit cards and medical bills. Debtors should arm themselves with knowledge of the FDCPA before communicating with a bill collector.

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 at 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.


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