If you’re in debt and worried about your assets becoming collateral for your ability to pay it off, the FDCPA is going to become your new shield as you go into deeper stages of debt collection. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was first put into place in 1977 as a way to prevent debt collectors from over-exerting their power on what they can and cannot take from you as a means to settle debt.
The FDCPA is designed to protect the debtor from unfair or excessive repossession of property from debt collectors.
It outlines what is restricted behavior as well as behavior that must be adhered to and practiced. Some argue it goes to far, some say it does not go far enough.
If you’re facing debt and want to know your rights, here is a brief guide on some tenets of the FDCPA and how it can be used to protect you.
The FDCPA is strict on how and when collectors can contact you. As an across the board rule, consumers may not be contacted outside of 8am to 9pm local time and, if they have so specified, during certain hours when they’ve deemed themselves unavailable. Further, contacting a consumer at their place of employment, continuing to contact a consumer after receiving written notice to cease, contacting a consumer known to be represented by an attorney, or continuing to contact a consumer after they’ve requested debt verification are all prohibited communication activities.
While communicating with consumers during the allotted time, a debt collector may not in any way threaten a consumer or blackmail them. They are also prohibited from adding a consumer to a “bad debt” publishing. The debt collector may also not communicate by any “embarrassing media” and only utilize phones, postcards, standard envelopes, etc. And, it goes without saying but is outlined in the FDCPA that profane language may not be used at any time during communications.
In addition to adhering to communication standards outlined in the FDCPA, a debt collector must also be overall in accordance with what is owed to them. Seeking amounts excessive to what is outlined in the contract in question is prohibited (ie seeking interest for late payment that was not clearly outlined in the initial agreement). Collectors may also not make any false credit reports on the debtor as a result of the situation not attempt to contact third parties about the situation.
What Does the FDCPA Allow?
In addition to general contact and offering name and contact information, the FDCPA requires debtors are informed of their right to contest the debt. Collectors must provide verification of the debt and use approved channels for filing a lawsuit if the case requires it.
Does the FDCPA Have Any Downsides?
Depends on who you ask. Consumer groups have complained that the FDCPA’s rules are not comprehensive enough and the implementation of the laws and enforcement has not been enough to deter collectors’ agencies from breaking the laws. On the other side, credit companies argue that the FDCPA has been abused by consumers who seek lawsuits for minor damages as a way of getting out of debt collection. Another criticism is that the FDCPA has not been amended to reflect the dramatic change in technology since 1977.
The FDCPA is designed to protect consumers and keep parasitic collections agencies from harming those working to pay off debt. Do thorough research to make sure you know what you’re up against and what you’re protected from.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a consumer and protection as a debtor, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help. Hines Law is a full-service bankruptcy firm that has been battling creditors and protecting debtors for over 15 years. There are many components of the FDCPA, so it is important to note that a significant benefit is the protection to debtors from harassment by such debt collectors, which often times can involve threats by third-party debt collectors.
If you are faced with harassment due to ongoing, overwhelming debt, personal bankruptcy may be an option. The bankruptcy attorneys at Hines Law have been helping residents throughout Massachusetts with debt relief options and protection so that they can find the right solution to their financial situation. We specialize in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings and can help you get control of your finances and secure a bright financial future. Call us today for a Free case evaluation!