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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act with Brown and Crouppen

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

If you're behind in paying your bills, a debt collector may be contacting you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices.

The FDCPA only applies to debt collectors, not to original creditors. For example, if you owe the hospital $1000 in medical bills, the hospital is the "original creditor." A "debt collector", on the other hand, is someone who regularly collects debts owed to others.

What types of debts are covered?

The FDCPA covers personal, family, and household debts (credit cards, medical bills, mortgage, etc). It does not cover debts you incurred to run a business.

Can a debt collector contact me any time or any place?

No. A debt collector may not contact you before 8 am or after 9 pm, unless you agree to it. And collectors may not contact you at work if they're told (orally or in writing) that you're not allowed to get calls there.

How can I stop a debt collector from contacting me?

Tell the collector – in writing – to stop contacting you. Send it by certified mail with a return receipt. And make sure you keep a copy of the letter for yourself.

Sending this letter to a debt collector won't get of the debt (if it's actually owed), but it should stop contact. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again, except to:

· tell you there will be no further contact or

· let you know that they or the creditor intend to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit.

Can a debt collector contact anyone else about my debt?

It depends. If you have a lawyer, the debt collector must contact your lawyer.

If you don't have an attorney, a collector may contact other people – but only to find out your address, your home phone number, and where you work. A debt collector generally is not permitted to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.

What does the debt collector have to tell me about the debt?

Every collector must send you a written "validation notice" telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you don't think you owe the money.

What if I don't think I owe them that amount?

Ask for proof. Send a letter stating that you don't owe the money and demand for verification of the debt. You have to send that letter within 30 days after you receive the validation notice. But a collector can begin contacting you again if it sends you written verification of the debt, like a copy of a bill for the amount you owe.

What practices are off limits for debt collectors?

· Harassment (threats of violence or arrest, using profane language, repeated phone calls, etc).

· False statements.

· Unfair practices (depositing a post-dated check early, lying about your legal rights, etc.)

Can a debt collector garnish my bank account or my wages?

Yes, but only if they have a court order. To prevent that, never ignore a lawsuit summons. Hire a lawyer or respond on your own but don't ignore it.

Do I have any recourse if I think a debt collector has violated the law?

You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date the law was violated. You should speak with an attorney who handles consumer law issues.

Where do I report a debt collector for an alleged violation?

Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission (currently shutdown).

Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your Attorney General's office can help you determine your rights under your state's law.

More information can be found at: