The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was established to safeguard consumers from aggressive practices by collection agencies. This legislation imposes restrictions on their tactics. It is essential to note that the FDCPA applies to external collection agencies, those hired by credit card companies after their in-house attempts have failed, and not to the collection departments within the companies or other lenders.
What actions are prohibited by collection agencies?
Under the FDCPA, collectors are prohibited from making incessant phone calls to your home that could lead to harassment. They cannot call you before 8 A.M. or after 9 P.M. Additionally, they are not allowed to use threats or employ obscene language during communications. If they are aware that you are represented by an attorney, they cannot contact you directly. Similarly, if your employer forbids such calls, they cannot contact you at your workplace. Revealing your financial situation to your friends, neighbors, or colleagues is also strictly forbidden.
Can collection agencies access information about me from government records, such as Social Security records or tax returns?
No, collection agencies are not permitted to use government records for their purposes. However, original creditors can gather information from state motor vehicle departments regarding car registrations, voter registration records, post office data, or information from utility companies or banks to locate you.
What can I do if my collection agency continues to violate these regulations?
If your collection agency is persisting in such behaviors, you have the right to take legal action against them. Before proceeding to a lawsuit, it might be beneficial to send a letter citing the provisions of the FDCPA and demanding that the collection agency cease all communications with you, except for reasons explicitly allowed by federal law.
I have already sent a letter as mentioned above, but the harassment continues. What should I do?
If the harassment persists despite your formal notice, you can lodge a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you can provide evidence of ongoing harassment, you may have grounds for a lawsuit, and consumers have won several such cases in court against collectors.
Are there any other legal resources available to deal with collection agencies?
If you suspect that the collection agency is engaging in illegal activities, you can write a detailed letter to the Federal Trade Commission at the Consumer Response Center. Additionally, sending copies of the letter to your state attorney’s office, local consumer protection office, and the legal department of the credit company that initiated the collection process can also be beneficial. If all else fails, you can reach out to the American Collectors Association, whose members commit to conducting their business professionally.