Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that limits the actions of third-party debt collectors that are trying to collect debts on behalf of another person or entity. The legislation limits the ways that collectors can contact debtors, as well as the time of day and amount of times that contact can be made. If the FDCPA is violated, the debtor can sue the debt collection agency as well as the individual debt collector for damages and attorney expenses.
How the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Works
The FDCPA does not protect debtors from those who are attempting to collect a personal debt. If you owe money to the local hardware store, for example, and the owner of the store calls you to collect that debt, that person is not a debt collector under the terms of this act. The FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collectors, such as those who work for a debt collection agency. Credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and other kinds of household debt are covered by the law.
Example of When and How Debt Collectors Can Contact Debtors
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act specifies that debt collectors can not contact debtors at bothersome times. That means they must not call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless the debtor and the collector have made an arrangement for a call to occur outside of the allowed hours. If a debtor tells a collector that they would like to speak after work at 10 p.m., for instance, the collector is allowed to call then. Without an invitation or agreement, however, the debtor can not legally call at that time. Debt collectors may also send letters, emails, or text messages to collect a debt.
Debt collectors can attempt to get in touch with debtors at their homes or place of work. However, if a debtor asks a bill collector, either verbally or in writing, to stop calling their place of employment, the collector must not call that number again.
Within five days of contacting a debtor, the debt collector has to send a written "validation notice" that includes:
- How much money the debtor owes
- The name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed
- Notice that they have 30 days to contest the debt and what to do
Debtors can also prevent collectors from calling their home phones, but they have to put the request in a letter and send it to the debt collector. It's a good idea to send the letter by certified mail and pay for a return receipt to make sure that you have evidence that the debt collector received the request.
If a collector does not have contact information for a debtor, they can call relatives, neighbors, or associates of the debtor to get the debtor's contact number, however they can not reveal any information about the debt, including the fact that they are calling from a debt collection agency. (The collector can only discuss the debt with the debtor or their husband or wife.) Furthermore, collectors can only call third parties once each.
The law makes it illegal for debt collectors to harass debtors in various other ways, including threats of physical harm or arrest. They also can not lie or use profane or obscene language. Additionally, debt collectors can not threaten to take legal action against a debtor unless they genuinely intend to take that debtor to court.
For More Information About the Fair Debt Collections Act in Los Angeles, California, Contact Thomas K. McKnight LLP At (800) 466 - 7507 or Visit Our Website at TKMLLP.Com for a Free Consultation!