FDCPA rules and what you can do if a debt collector breaks them
When a consumer takes out any form of credit and fails to return back the amount with due interest to the lender, then the lender has full authority to hire a third party to collect the debt amount from the consumer.
But that doesn’t mean this third party can instill all forces on the consumer, to pull back the debt amount. There are limitations to their actions and violation of such limitations has its consequences.Every debt collection agency or collector should follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) rules while collecting default debts or loans from consumers, on behalf of the creditors.
If any agency or collector violates such rules, then you have full right to halt your debt payments and bring such inconveniences under the notice of the federal government.
But before I progress with the options and measures you can take if any collection agency has violated the FDCPA rules, I want to discuss the general laws and statutes every collection agency should follow.
After going through the declaration of the rules and regulations as proposed by FDCPA, it will be easier for you to understand how and when has the agency broken the rules and on what grounds. This will help you to take suitable measures against the agency or collector without much problem and brainstorming!
General rules and regulations as stated by the FDCPA for debt collections:
- Only when you are minor, and/or in your absence, can the collection agency contact your spouse, guardian, parent, executor, and administrator. No other family member may be contacted by the agency.
- The collection agency can call or contact you only between 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM. The agency can contact you beyond this timing if you or a court of competent jurisdiction has given permission to do so.
- A collector cannot reach you at your place of work or residence of your family members if you give a valid reason to the collector that you can’t tolerate or entertain such communications.
- If you have informed the collection agency that you have hired an attorney to deal with your debt cases, then the collector or the collection agency should only contact the attorney, unless the attorney is unavailable for communication and/or the attorney allows direct communication between you and the collection agency.
- If you send a written request to the collection agency that they should stop all communications with you and/or you refuse to pay the debt, then they must stop contacting you. Only there are chances that they will inform you once that they are going to take suitable measures against your request. But they can’t communicate you thereafter.
- A collection agency should send you a written notice that will state the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and that you have 30 days time since the date of the written notice to dispute the debt, before the debt becomes valid, and the agency has total authority to collect it from you.
- A debt collector cannot harm you physically or use any means of violence or threats to your reputation or property or your family members to collect the due debt.
- The collector cannot use abusive or obscene language or create an emotional unrest situation to collect the debt from you.
- The collection agency cannot publicly disclose how much debt you owe, or that you are refusing to repay it.
- The agency cannot annoy, abuse, or harass you/or your family members by making non-stop telephone calls, or continually leave the calls unanswered when you call them in return.
- The collectors cannot dress in false attire or disguise themselves as government personnel to collect the debt from you.
- The collectors cannot misinterpret the actual debt amount, the Statute of Limitation for the debt, and/or the creditor’s details.
- No agency can use false paperwork to collect the due debt or manipulate the actual information of the due debt.
- On sending a debt validation letter (will be discussed later in this post), the collection agency cannot provide false information about themselves or of the debt itself.
- No collection agency can charge an amount more than the debt’s principal amount and the total interest owed, as agreed between you and the creditor. Doing so is a criminal offense as per the FDCPA.
- The collector can neither threat to take nor seize any of your property if the property has nothing to do with your debt.
- If a collector approaches you for multiple debts, then all payments will be structured as per your convenience and accordance. No payments will be made for a disputed debt.
- A collection agency cannot use postcards to communicate you for debt collection.
Measures you can take if a collection agency violates FDCPA rules:
It is mandatory that whenever you are approached by a collection agency, you should first send a debt validation letter to verify that the agency or the collector is licensed or holds the permission to collect the debt from you.
If you don’t find any reasonable answer or validation from their side, then you can definitely sue the agency in court along with your creditor’s name and wait for the court proceedings to begin.
But if you find enough reason that supports the activities of the collection agency to be justified, then you should have a talk with the agency to find out a suitable debt payoff strategy.Now, if the agency is not ready to cooperate with you and/or breaking the above-stated FDCPA rules, here are the things you can do:
- File a lawsuit against the collection agency on legal grounds and with enough evidence in a State Court, Small claims court, or report such violation to a government agency.
- With enough evidence, call records, photographs, and help of an attorney, you can use such violations as a useful tool while doing debt negotiations.
- As often noted by many law firms and attorneys, the collection agencies not only break FDCPA rules but also violate state laws. So, you can hire your personal lawyer and file a complaint with the state Attorney General’s office.
If it is proved that the collection agency has violated the FDCPA rules, then the collector or the collection agency is liable to pay for any physical damages done to your property or yourself or people associated with you.
The agency might have to pay a compensation cost of upto $1000 depending on the type of action lawsuit filed. On winning the case, you might also be compensated for your attorney’s fees, paperwork, and court fees.
So, whenever your debts are passed onto collection agencies and you believe that the agency is breaking the FDCPA rules, then it is better to take help of attorneys.