The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) gives you the right to be free from abusive or deceptive debt collection practices and the right to control communication with debt collectors, among many other rights. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you, and places a number of other restraints upon how and when a debt collector may attempt collection.
The FDCPA applies to third-party debt collectors who are attempting to collect debts on behalf of someone else but does not apply to original lenders. 15 U.S.C. § 1692a(6).
Your Rights Under the FDCPA
You have the right to control the manner in which debt collectors may communicate with you. Specifically, you have the right to stop collection phone calls. Once you notify a collection agency in writing that you do not want to receive phone calls, they cannot legally continue to call you except under specific and limited circumstances. Send the debt collector a letter telling them to stop calling you.
Before you put a stop to the collection phone calls, the debt collector is permitted to contact you only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., your local time. 15 U.S. Code § 1692c. Calls before or after these set hours constitute a violation of your rights.
You have the right to be free from abusive or deceptive debt collection practices:
- A debt collector may not harass, oppress, threaten, or abuse you. 15 U.S. Code § 1692d.
- A debt collector may not use false, deceptive, or make misleading representations in connection to collecting on a debt. 15 U.S. Code § 1692e.
- A debt collector cannot threaten you with arrest or imprisonment. 15 U.S.C. § 1692(e)(4).
- A debt collector cannot threaten to take any collection action, such as filing a lawsuit or wage garnishment, unless the action is lawful and the debt collector intends to actually take such action. 15 U.S.C. § 1692(e)(5).
- A debt collector cannot contact your friends or family to try to collect on the debt or to share information with them about the debt. A debt collector may contact a person other than the consumer only if they do not have contact information for the consumer and solely “for the purpose of acquiring information about the consumer.” 15 U.S.C. §1692(b).
- A debt collector cannot call you at work “if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the consumer’s employer prohibits the consumer from receiving such communication.” 15 U.S.C. 1692(a)(3). If a creditor calls you at work, tell them that your employer does not allow you to receive personal calls at work.
If a debt collector violates your rights under the FDCPA, we encourage you to report their illegal activity to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and your state attorney general’s office.
Bankruptcy Stops Debt Collectors
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