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Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
 Jun 08, 2004

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is designed to protect consumers from harassment from debt collectors. In this article we will review what is considered acceptable guidelines for debt collectors according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

One of the most discouraging things is being in debt. Often, the discouragement associated with being in debt is further compounded by pushy creditors and threatening phone calls. The good news is that you do have protections. While you are not protected against paying the debt that you owe, you do have consumer rights when it comes to what creditors are allowed to do as they try to collect. Your rights are codified in the Fair Debt Collection Practices ACT (FDCPA).

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted to protect consumers from threatening and harassing debt collectors. In most cases, you already know that you owe money and you may even be trying to figure out what you can do to get back on track. Therefore, having further stress added to your other problems can make things worse.

The FDCPA sets forth what is considered acceptable for debt collectors seeking payment:

  • You can only be contacted between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. This prevents you from being hounded late at night or very early in the morning. This is to allow you some time in which you know you are safe from phone calls from debt collectors.
  • You cannot be contacted at work if your employer does not like it. Debt collectors cannot put your job in jeopardy by calling you or emailing you at work. If your employer would disapprove of these deeply personal phone calls, then debt collectors cannot call you at work. However, you have to notify them that your employer disapproves if you want them to comply.
  • Debt collectors cannot harass you. In some cases, debt collectors may try to intimidate you through harassment or threatening language. Some abuse you by indicating that you may not be trustworthy or worthwhile because of your debt. It is important to realize that this is against the law, and you should make it clear that you will not put up with that behavior.
  • Debt collectors may not lie to you. In the past, one of the most popular ways to scare debtors into paying as quickly as possible (even if they were not actually able to) was by lying and saying that a warrant would be issued for a debtor. This is not the case. Debt collection is a civil matter. While you can be sued for payment of the debt, you cannot be arrested or charged with a crime for not being current on a debt.
  • Proper identification is required from debt collectors. Debt collectors should not be calling you and telling you that they are contacting you for some other reason. They are not supposed to hide their identities. When you pick up the phone, debt collectors should clearly tell you who they are and exactly why they are calling.

It is also important to note that debt collectors have to stop contacting you by phone altogether if you request it writing. If you want the calls and letters to stop, you can write a letter to the debt collectors (it has to be in writing). However, you should be aware that debt collectors can send information related to civil action and continue billing you regularly after your request.

If you are faced with debt collectors who are violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you need to notify the authorities. These people are breaking the law, and you have recourse, which can involve civil action. Anytime an infraction occurs, record the date, time and phone number of the caller. You should also note the name or identification number of the representative you talk to. If possible, make a recording of conversations that violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

You should be aware of your rights under the FDCPA. You can find out more by visiting the Web site of the Federal Trade Commission at

Related Article: Understanding Debt >>

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