Unfair Debt Collection Practices
Are you or someone you know being contacted by a debt collector? Debt collectors are not very sympathetic when it comes to the difficulties many of us face in managing our debts, especially in a bad economy. Job loss and health issues resulting in unexpectedly large medical bills, can often be the start of mounting debt obligations which seem to spin out of control.
Fortunately, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is a Federal law that was enacted in 1977, protects consumers from abusive debt collection practices. It’s purpose is to provide the rules which debt collectors must follow in order to conduct business, define the rights of consumers with respect to debt collectors and establishes penalties and remedies for violations of the law.
Specifically, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act expressly prohibits debt collectors from conduct that is “abusive and deceptive” while attempting to collect debts, including the following:
- Phone Calls. Contacting consumers by phone outside the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time of consumer.
- Failure to stop communication when asked. Communicating with consumers in any manner, that does not involve litigation, after receiving written notice from or on behalf of the consumer stating that he or she would like no further communication with specific exceptions.
- Making a telephone ring or enticing any consumber to speak with said debt collector by telephone repeatedly or continuously. The intent of which is to annoy, harass or otherwise abuse any consumer that is called by phone.
- Contacting a consumer at his or her place of employment despite being notified that this is unacceptable or not allowed by the employer.
- Communicating with a consumer known to be represented by a lawyer.
- Contacting a consumer subsequent to his or her request for validation has been made, but before the debt collector sends the consumer the requested verification or original creditor’s name and address.
- Misrepresentation and/or deceptive practices. Misrepresentation of the debt in question or use of deceptive practices in an effort to collect a debt, including falsely stating that he or she is a lawyer or law enforcement officer.
- Publishing the consumer’s name and/or address on a “bad debt” list.
- Asking for unreasonable amounts of repayment. This includes any demands for amounts not authorized under an applicable contract or as provided under applicable law.
- Making threats of arrest or legal action that is not permissible or not genuinely pondered.
- Abusive or Obscene language used when communicating as it pertains to the collection of a debt.
- Communication with third parties. Disclosing the details of debts with others…those who are not the consumer’s spouse or attorney. Collection agencies are permitted to contact neighbors or co-workers to obtain location information of the debtor only.
- Communication via embarrassing media. For example, communicating with a consumer via post card, or using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating by mail. The exception to this rule is that a debt collector may use his business name if it does not convey that he or she is a debt collector.
- Intentionally reporting or threatening to report false or otherwise inaccurate information on a consumer’s credit report in an effort to collect on a debt.
What Creditors are Required to do
Under The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are required to (among other things):
- Identify himself or herself and notify the consumer in every communication. Moreover, the debt collector must state that he or she is a debt collector and in the first communication that the information gathered will be used to effect collection of the debt.
- Provide the name and address of the original creditor upon the consumer’s written request made within 30 days of receipt of the Validation of Debts notice.
- Notify the consumer of his or her right to dispute the debt, in part or in full, with the debt collector.
- Provide verification of the debt. If a consumer sends a written dispute or request for verification within 30 days of receiving the Validation of Debts notice, then the debt collector must either mail the consumer the requested verification information or stop collection efforts altogether.
- File a lawsuit in the proper venue. If a debt collector chooses to file a lawsuit, it may only be done so in a place where the consumer lives or signed the contract.
Call 480-755-8000 to speak with our Arizona debt relief attorney today for immediate help.