Falling behind on bills and struggling with debt is stressful enough. You do not need debt collectors harassing you at all times of the day. Thankfully, there are laws intended to protect you from creditor harassment. The Fair Debt Collections Practice Act is one of the primary federal laws that protects consumers. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from using unfair, abusive, and deceptive tactics to collect money from you.
FDCPA is designed to protect consumers from harassment by debt collectors. Debt collectors include collection agencies, attorneys who are in the business of collecting debts, and companies that purchase delinquent debts and later try to collect them.
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in any of the following practices:
Harassment: Debt collectors cannot harass you or any third parties they contact. Harassment includes things like threatening violence or harm, using obscene language, and publishing the names of people who refused to pay their debts.
False statements: Debt collectors cannot lie or make misleading statements to you. Examples of this include falsely claiming that you committed a crime or misrepresenting the amount of money you owe.
Unfair practices: Debt collectors cannot engage in unfair practices such as depositing a post-dated check too early or trying to collect money on top of what you actually owe.
In addition to prohibiting certain activities, the FDCPA has requirements that debt collectors must follow. For example, within five days after contacting you, a debt collector must send you a written notice that verifies how much you owe.
Not all debts are covered by the Act. It does cover personal debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, a mortgage, and an auto loan. The FDCPA does not, however, cover debts that you incurred for a business.
This post is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to consumer protection laws. The state of New Jersey has its own laws, such as the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. If you are the victim of creditor harassment, you should speak with an attorney who has experience in bankruptcy law. The attorney can help you understand your legal rights.
Source: Consumer.ftc.gov, “Debt Collection,” Accessed Oct. 27, 2015