In 1977, the United States’ congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Commonly referred to as the Fair Debt Collection Act, this law was drafted in order to provide guidelines, procedures and limitations to regulate the activities that are done in debt collection processes. Because of the Fair Debt Collection Act, debt collectors have refrained from using threats, lies or insults to harass and intimidate debtors.
In order to understand this act, you must first have an understanding of what a debt collector is. According to the Fair Debt Collection Act, a debt collector is someone who “uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another”.
To put it simply, a debt collector is someone who collects payments that debtors owe to another company. For example, you have a delinquent account with a credit card company. Once the credit company feels that too much resource is required to pursue you to make payments, it will hire a debt collector to pursue the payments for them.
Now that you understand what a debt collector is, you must also know what the debt collector’s job entails. The Fair Debt Collection Act details the information that your debt collector must give you. Remember, for the debt collection activity to be legitimate, you should first be supplied with documents that will help you understand the situation you are in.
Once the debt collector has contacted you, he has five days to provide you with the following:
1) The exact figures regarding that debt that you supposedly owe.
2) Information about the creditor that you owe the debt to.
3) The debt collector must tell you that you have a maximum of 30 days to raise your doubts or disagreements regarding the nature and specifics of the debt. If you do not dispute the debt, the collector assumes that the debt is valid and binding.
4) In case you claim that you have no debt, the debt collector must immediately send you documents and other certificates that will verify the debt.
5) Under the Fair Debt Collection Act, the debt collector should inform you that if you have switched creditors, you are allowed to ask for information regarding your original creditor.
As you can see, the Fair Debt Collection Act mandates that the debtor be given adequate details as well as ample time to evaluate them and raise whatever concerns he may have. If for some reason, the debt collector becomes aggressive and abusive, the Fair Debt Collection Act also gives the debtor the right to sue the debt collector.
However, the debtor must remember that the Fair Debt Collection Act of 1977 does not erase debts. It isn’t a get-out-of-debt ticket. It simply ensures that debt collectors will be able to do their work and solicit payments without violating the rights of the debtors.