Falling into debt due to job loss, divorce, health issues, or personal bankruptcy and then being harassed by debt collectors can be a very stressful time in your life. the FDCPA was implemented to protect you from abuse while the debt is collected.
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What is FDCPA?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that says when, how often, and which third-party debt collectors may contact you. It also protects you from unfair, abusive, or deceptive practices that may be used by lawyers, third parties, or collection agencies that attempt to collect a debt from you.
How the FDCPA protects you?
1. Hours You May Be Contacted
- Debt collectors may not call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. your local time unless you request that times outside those hours work best.
- They must not call you more than seven times over seven days.
- You may request orally or in writing that you wish not to be contacted at work.
2. How You Must Receive Information About the Debt
- You must receive a written validation notice five days after being notified by the debtor stating:
- How much money do you owe?
- What is the name of the creditor you owe?
- You have 30 days to dispute the debt if you believe there is an error or you don’t owe the debt.
- A tear-off dispute form for you to mail. *It is recommended to send it as certified mail with a return receipt.
3. Six Ways Collectors May contact you.
- Collectors may contact you after sending you a written validation notice.
- They can legally send written letters, emails, and texts outside the reasonable times mentioned previously.
- They may also request you as a friend on social media but must identify themselves as debt collectors.
- They may only send you private messages on social media requesting the debt to be paid.
- If you have an attorney and wish to be no longer contacted, contact your collector and give them your attorney’s contact information.
- If you don’t have an attorney, your collector may contact friends and family to obtain your place of employment, home address, and home phone number; however, they cannot inform them who they are or why they are calling.
4. Two Ways to Stop Collectors From Contacting You.
- Send a written letter requesting for the collector to stop contacting you. Be sure to send certified mail with a return receipt. *Note that this does not dismiss you from paying back the debt, only that you request no longer to be contacted.
- After they receive your letter, they may only contact you by stating:
- No further contact will be made.
- Or that they intend to sue you.
5. Eight Prohibited Behaviors That A Collector Must Not Violate.
- Collectors must always identify themselves as debt collectors whenever they contact you.
- They must not oppress, harass, or abuse you, your family, or your friends.
- Collectors can not repeatedly call you back to back.
- They may not use profane or obscene language.
- Collectors may not physically show up at your employment/business.
- They must not publicize your debt except with the credit bureaus.
- Collectors cannot pretend to work with the credit bureaus or be lawyers or government officials.
- They can’t lie about the amount you owe or say you have committed a crime.
6. What Can You Do If You Are Harrassed By A Debt Collector?
- Contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Contact your state’s attorney general.
- You or your attorney may sue the collector within one year if they violate prohibited behavior.
The Bottom Line about FDCPA
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not excuse you from paying back the debt you owe, but it will ensure that you are treated fairly during the process. Here are more credit laws you should know to avoid being taken advantage of by lenders. Click to read each one.