March 2, 2022

Fair Debt Collections in Orange County

Thomas K. McKnight - Fair Debt Collections in Orange County

What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that restricts the actions of third-party debt collectors that are attempting to collect debts on behalf of another individual or entity. The regulation limits the ways that collectors can contact debtors, in addition to the time of day and number of times that contact can be made. If the FDCPA is violated, the debtor can take legal action against the debt collection agency along with 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 instance, and the owner of the store calls you to collect that debt, that individual is not a debt collector under the terms of this act. The FDCPA just applies to third-party debt collectors, such as those that work for a debt collection agency. Credit card debt, medical bills, student loans, mortgages, and various 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 should not call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless the debtor and the collector have made an agreement for a call to happen outside of the allowed hours. If a debtor tells a collector that they wish to talk 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 try to reach debtors at their homes or offices. However, if a debtor tells 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

Special Considerations

Debtors can also stop collectors from calling their home phones, but they must 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 so 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, but they can not disclose any information regarding the debt, including the fact that they are calling from a debt collection agency. (The collector may only talk about the debt with the debtor or their husband or wife.) Furthermore, collectors can only call third parties once each.

The legislation makes it illegal for debt collectors to bother debtors in other ways, including threats of bodily harm or arrest. They also can not lie or use profane or obscene language. In addition, debt collectors can not threaten to sue a debtor unless they truly plan to take that debtor to court.

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