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November 27, 2020 /

Debt Harassment Under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

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Although most lenders are usually very scrupulous about the kind of debt collection behavior they espouse, there are always bad seeds that can indulge in harassment or intimidation to ensure that debts get paid. In many cases, it’s third-party debt collectors that engage in unethical and illegal practices to get you to pay your money. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is what preserves your rights in this scenario. This blog will attempt to explain the FDCPA and what it guarantees you.

Understanding the FDCPA

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal legislation that governs the methods and behavior of third-party collectors that collect debt payments on another entity or person’s behalf. Not only does the law outline the kinds of ways that debt collectors can attempt to contact debtors, but also regulates appropriate time periods, and the number of contact attempts that are allowed. With a one-year statute of limitations, the FDCPA allows debtors to bring a suit against the collection company and the specific collector for damages against debt harassment including attorney fees.

The FDCPA’s Mechanisms

It’s important to note that the FDCPA doesn’t help debtors protect themselves from personal debts. For example, if a friend or a local store owner lends you money or gives you store credit, the FDCPA will not intervene here. This is because these individuals are not debt collectors as per the act’s definition. The FDCPA was written to control the actions of third-party collection agencies. Institutionalized debt such as medical bills, mortgages, credit card bills, student loans or other similar kinds of debt are what count here.

Legal Debt Collection Practices

The FDCPA specifies that attempts to contact should be made during business hours, which means that early morning or late-night calls are prohibited. This specification only changes in the case that collectors are asked to call after business hours. Debt collectors are allowed to send letters, emails, or text messages, but if one of the contact numbers/addresses is associated with a workplace, debtors are allowed to request not to be contacted at those numbers/addresses. The FDCPA allows debt collectors to contact next of kin, or associates but cannot reveal any details about the debt itself unless they’re talking to a spouse.

A frustrated woman talking on the phone — depicting debt harassment.

Illegal Debt Collection Practices

Although the FDCPA allows for multiple means of contact to debtors, the act strictly prohibits a range of actions that count as debt harassment. This includes:  
  • Profanity
  • Obscenity
  • Threats of physical harm
  • Threats of arrest
  • Violating the terms of fair collection practices
  • Contacting a debtor’s relatives to reveal private information or to harass
  • Lying about the amount owed
  If you experience any of these behaviors, don’t hesitate to contact me at Cook Law, LLC. As an experienced debt harassment lawyer in St. Louis and Chicago, I can help you file a claim against debt collectors that violate the terms of the FDCPA. I also practice as a credit lawyer, incorrect background check lawyer and bankruptcy error lawyer in the same locations!