Knowing Your Rights Under The Fair Credit Collection Act

If you are being harassed non stop by a collections agency or a creditor, that is a serious issue. it is absolutely illegal for a collections agency to engage in harassment or to threaten you in any way, except to inform you of pending legal action. If they do tell you about pending legal action, they must follow through on it, or else that to can be taken as a threat. In the U.S you are protected by the Fair Debt Collections Act. This law states that the following behaviors are prohibited:

Hours of contact
They may only contact you between 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time

Failure to cease communication upon request

Once you send this letter, and you should send it via certified mail, the collections agency or creditor can only contact you to tell you of impending legal action such as a lawsuit. They may also contact you once to ask for your attorney information if you have indicated you have or are seeking legal representation. They may also contact you once inform you that collection efforts are being terminated.

Using a telephone to harass
They may not call repeatedly throughout the day to cause the telephone to ring non stop. This is clearly behavior intended to annoy, abuse, or harass person.

Calling a debtors workplace after being told no
If you inform a creditor or collections agency that calls to your workplace are unacceptable or prohibited by the employer, yet they continue to call, they are now in violation of the Fair Debt Collections Act.

Direct contact with a debtor who is known to be represented by a lawyer
If a creditor or collections agency contacts you after they have been given the name and phone number of your attorney, they are violating the law.

Misrepresentation or deceit
Collections agencies may not misrepresent themselves, your debts, or any related information to you. They also may not lie about pending legal action if no pending legal action actually exists.

Communication with third parties
A creditor or collections agency is not allowed to disclose your debt or debts to anyone, other than your spouse or your attorney. They can contact others to gain location and contact information, but may not disclose your debts or allude to debts.

Reporting false information on a debtor’s credit report
They may not intentionally report false, incorrect or misleading information to credit reporting agencies. They also may not threaten to do this during the collections process.

Threatening arrest or legal action

Unless you have committed fraud and they can prove it, they may not threaten arrest in an attempt to collect the debt. They also may not threaten legal action, they can however inform you that legal action is being taken.

Seeking unjustified amounts

A collections agency or creditor may not for example tack on collections costs to the debt, or any other fee or amount not proscribed by law.

There is also conduct that collections agencies, creditors, and debt collectors are required to do. This includes the following:

Identify themselves

Collectors must identify themselves as debt collectors in every communication, either by mail or by phone, that the communication is from a debt collector. They must also inform you that any information they gain may be used in an effort to collect the debt.

Provide name and address of original creditor
Collections agencies must respond to written requests made within 30 days to provide you with the name and address of the original creditor. This rule is in place to prevent fraudulent debt collections.

Notify you of your right to dispute

Within 30 days of their first contact with you, they must inform you of your right to file a dispute of any or all the information related to a alleged debt. They must also provide verification of your debt if asked within 30 days of receiving a ยง1692g notice, if they cannot verify the debt, all collections actions must cease, and the credit reporting agencies must be notified.

Lawsuit venue

If the collections agency does file a lawsuit, they must file the lawsuit in the jurisdiction where the contract was signed, or where you live.

If a debt collection agency violates these rules, you may sue in a court of law for actual, statutory, attorney’s fees, and court costs, provided that you can prove these rules were violated. It is not advised to file a fake lawsuit, as the court can award the collections agency an attorney fee if it can be shown you filed the lawsuit in an attempt to harass the collections agency, and yes that has happened before. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission to report violations of the FDCPA.

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