The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): What is it exactly?
A federal statute known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) restricts the activities of independent debt collectors who seek to collect debts on behalf of another individual or organization.
There are legal restrictions on the ways, times, and frequency of communication debt collectors may use with debtors. If the FDCPA is violated, the debtor may sue the debt collection agency and the individual debt collector for damages and attorney fees.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Debt Collection Rule clarifies the FDCPA’s rules about debt collectors’ interactions with debtors.
The Function of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
To make debt collection a just and non-aggressive procedure, the FDCPA establishes a framework in which debt collectors are permitted to operate.
The time of day collectors may call, the language they may use, and the way they present themselves are all restricted by law. Essentially, it is against the law for them to intimidate or bother you while attempting to collect a debt.
Debtors have two options: if a debt collector breaks the law, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), or go to court with the debt collector.
The FDCPA does not protect debtors sued by someone trying to collect a personal debt. For example, if you owe money to your neighborhood hardware store and the owner calls you to collect the debt, that person is not legally considered a debt collector.
The FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collectors, such as those working for agencies. The law protects against debt from credit cards, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other household sources.
Illustration of Protection Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from calling debtors at inconvenient hours. This means unless the debtor and collector arrange a call outside of hours. They should not call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
If the debtor wants to talk after work, the collector can call at 10 p.m. Without an invitation or agreement, the debtor cannot call. Debt collectors may send SMS, emails, or letters.
Debtors may get calls from debt collectors at work or home. The FDCPA prohibits collectors from calling a debtor’s workplace again if the debtor requests to cease in writing or orally.
Debt collectors can contact debtors via social media, with limits. They may only talk to debtors privately. They must identify themselves as debt collectors when contacting you. At every exchange, they must let you unsubscribe.
Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. “Be Aware of How the CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule Affects You.”
The CFPB’s Debt Collection Rule limits debt collector calls. Only seven calls are allowed in seven days. You may get additional messages, texts, or emails from them.
The debt collector must send a written validation notice comprising the following to the debtor within five days of communication:
- How much is the debtor owed?
- The creditor’s name that the debt is owed to
- Please give them a 30-day window to contest the debt and decide what to do.
- A section to be torn off and used as a dispute form
The FDCPA forbids debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive methods when collecting debts.
Additional Rules for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
Additionally, debtors can forbid debt collectors from contacting their home phones. Doing so requires them to write a letter requesting this action be taken. To ensure you have documentation that the debt collector got the request. It is a good idea to send the letter by certified mail and cover the cost of a return receipt.
If a collector doesn’t have the debtor’s number, they may phone acquaintances, neighbors, or relatives. However, they cannot disclose debt information or call on behalf of a debt collector. Only the debtor or spouse can discuss the debt with the collector. Each third party can only receive one collection call.
The legislation prohibits debt collectors from bullying debtors, including threatening bodily damage or arrest. They can’t lie or use foul language either. Debt collectors cannot threaten legal action against debtors unless they intend to sue.
Can a debt collector visit my place of business in person?
It is not permitted for a debt collector to personally visit your place of employment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) considers a personal visit to your career as “publicizing” your debt. They can call you at work, but they have to listen to your instructions.
What should I do if a debt collector is bugging me?
You can report a debt collector you believe has broken the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or the attorney general of your state.
How does the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) define harassment?
Harassment includes frequent, odd-hour calls, profane or threatening language, exposing the debt to others, and not identifying as a debt collector.
The Final Word
Debtors have rights, such as freedom from intimidation or harassment, if they are unable to repay the money they have borrowed. Debt collectors must follow specific rules while collecting your debt. Knowing your rights will help you handle these circumstances effectively, preventing stress and further financial hardship.
- When, how, and how frequently a third-party debt collector can contact a debtor are all covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
- In addition to the debtor, the FDCPA places restrictions on who the debt collector may get in touch with.
- A debtor can sue a debt collector in state or federal court within a year of an FDCPA violation for damages and attorney fees.