The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA

Mon, Feb 13, 2012

Debt Mitigation

FDCPAThe Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA was created to help protect consumers from unfair debt collecting practices. It is a federal law and applies in every state, often in conjunction with state laws. Florida’s state law is called the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act or FCCPA. SmithLaw’s blog post detailing that can be found here.

The FDCPA is long and detailed. It talks about the definitions of creditors, debt collectors, debtors, and more. It also delves into many different aspects of debt collecting—like finding the debtors location, verifying debts, multiple debts, etc.

Here are some of its main points:

While determining the location of a debtor the collector must identify themselves, but not communicate that the person they are looking for owes any debt. They may only identify the person’s employer if they are specifically asked. They cannot contact someone more than once to find a debtor, unless specifically asked or unless they feel that the person might have new information. They cannot find locations via post card or via communication that indicates they are collecting a debt.

While communicating with the debtor, the debt collector may not try to communicate at inconvenient times. Even if the collector is unsure of what might be inconvenient, they are specifically not to contact the debtor between 8pm and 9am in the debtor’s time zone or at work if the employer has rules against it. Some other limitations include that the collector must refrain from threats, bad language, continuously calling with intention to annoy the debtor, making false representations about the debt, and more.

The debt collector must talk with the debtor’s attorney, once they know there is attorney representation, unless the attorney fails to communicate or gives permission otherwise. Other third parties are not to be contacted about the debt unless there are specific circumstances met. In addition, once the debtor states they will not pay the debt or that they will not communicate with the collector further—the collector can say only certain things about future actions and then must cease contact.

Other items addressed include info about unfair practices, validating debts, bad checks, and deceptive forms. If a debt collector is found to be in violation of this act, there can be civil liability. To find out more, take a look at this PDF on the FTC’s website.

Image credit: scriptingnews

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