Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - Know Your Rights

If you owe money for a loan, credit card, car, or
mortgage you are a debtor. If you fail to make
a payment on your loan within the proscribed time limit,
or if a mistake has been made in your account, you will
likely be contacted by a debt collector.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act mandates that you be treated fairly by forbidding certain debt collection practices. Here's what you need to know:

A debt collector is anyone who regularly collects debts for others.

A debt collector is allowed to contact you by mail, phone, fax or telephone between 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., not before or after.

A debt collector cannot contact you at work, if s/he knows that your employer disapproves.

You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling them to stop. After that they can only get in touch to tell you they are stopping or to tell you they intend to take a specific act like taking you to court. Understand you may be able to stop the harassment, but you will still owe the debt.

A debt collector can contact your lawyer if you have one. S/he can contact people who know you, once, only to find out where you live, your phone number or where you work. S/he cannot tell anyone but your lawyer that you owe money.

You must receive written notice within 5 days, once you are contacted. This notice must state the amount owed, to whom, and how you can dispute it if you feel you don't owe it.

You cannot be dunned if, within 30 days after receiving the written notice, you send written notice that you don't owe the money. However, if you are sent written proof of the debt, s/he can renew collection actions.

Prohibited Debt Collection Practices

False Statements are prohibited, such as any of the following when s/he knows s/he cannot carry it out

  • Giving false credit information to a third party.

  • Implying you have committed a crime.

  • Implying they work for a credit bureau.

  • Misrepresenting the debt amount.

  • Presenting themselves as government representatives or lawyers

  • Sending documents designed to look like official documents when they aren't.

  • Threatening you with arrest.

  • Using a phony name.

Harassment, is prohibited. Debt collectors cannotabuse, harass, or oppress you or any third party s/he contacts about you. Specifically, s/he cannot

  • Threaten legal action that s/he knows cannot be taken.

  • Threaten you with the service of legal papers, and then not send them, or vice versa.

  • Threaten violence or harm.

  • Use the phone to hassle you.

  • Use profanity.

Unfair Practices, are prohibited. Specifically, s/he cannot

  • Collect more from you than the debt amount.

  • Send you a postcard.

  • Threaten to take your property when s/he know they can't
  • .
  • Use trickery to oblige you to take collect calls or pay for telegrams.

Acknowledgment to FTC's Fair Debt Collection Practices Act information.

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