Being in debt doesn’t mean that you are at the mercy of your creditors. In fact, in 1977, the United States Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Commonly referred to as FDCPA, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was drafted in order to prevent debt collection agencies from abusing or harassing debtors.
This act outlines the limits to which collection agencies can pursue debts. The act also specifies the legitimate steps that collection agencies can take in order to collect payments for debts. Meanwhile, the act also provides options as to how debtors can respond to debt collection agencies.
To begin with, what debts does the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act cover? Generally, the act is applicable to personal debts as well as family debts. It also includes household debts. More specifically, it applies to credit card debt, car payments, and even house mortgage. It also covers retail financing as well as costs incurred for medical care.
Before we delve further into the specifics of the law, it is important to remember that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act only covers debt collectors who collect debt on behalf of others. This includes lawyers who pursue debts for their clients as well as collection agencies which conduct debt collection services for other companies.
This means that this act does not apply to in-house collectors. In-house collectors are those who work for the collection department of the very business which you owe money to. For instance, a store has its own credit collection department. If the store’s collection department contacts you regarding a certain debt, it does not have to act according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
For your safety, it is important to know what practices are prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Here are some of the activities that debt collectors may NOT do:
1) Your debt collector is not allowed to reach out to other members of your family or anyone else in your workplace.
2) The debt collector cannot harass you with repeated phone calls or unreasonable visits. This means that when he is contacting you regarding your debt, he can only call or visit within the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm.
3) The debt collection agency cannot insult your person. He cannot use racial slurs. He is also not allowed to speak to you using profane or obscene language.
4) Unless he is backed by legal documents, the debt collector cannot threaten you with lawsuits or repossession.
5) The debt collector cannot falsely represent himself. He cannot use materials that will make the debtor think that he is a lawyer or he is affiliated with the government.
6) The debt collector cannot charge you extra fees, collection fees and other amounts that are not included in your original debt.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed to make sure that debt collectors act honestly and fairly. It doesn’t favor debtors; it simply safeguards both parties from harmful activities.