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How does the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act help?


Many Texas residents know that the Federal Trade Commission is entrusted with enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protects debtors from being harassed by debt collectors and creditors. The act lays down clear rules and regulations pertaining to those practices that debt collectors and creditors cannot employ while recovering debt.

According to the FDCPA, a debt collector is a person or company whose job is to collect debt on behalf of creditors. Some examples of debt collectors include collection agencies, lawyers and companies that purchase delinquent debts and then recover them. Except for debts incurred for running a business, all personal family and household debts are under the coverage of the FDCPA.

The FDCPA does not permit a debt collector to call a debtor before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless the debtor permits. Additionally, debt collectors cannot call a debtor's workplace if a debtor forbids them verbally or in writing. Similarly, collectors are not permitted to contact a debtor's family or friends for anything other than finding out a debtor's contact information. If the debtor has retained a lawyer, debt collectors must establish contact with that lawyer.

It is a debt collector's responsibility to send a validation notice within five days of contacting a debtor for the first time. The debt collector is also required to provide details on the creditor and mention how to proceed in case the person does not have money to repay the debt. A person may choose to send a letter to the debt collector within 30 days of receiving the validation notice seeking verification of the debt. This will stop calls from that debt collector for the time being, but if the debt collector verifies the debts owed by a person, the calls can resume.

As suggested by the Fair Debt Collection Act, the best way to stop calls is to send a letter along with a return receipt, and then save copies of the communication. A debtor might receive a call from the collector informing that the debtor will not be contacted any more or to inform of any specific action planned against the debtor. However, it is important for Texans to remember that stopping calls from debt collectors does not mean that a person is debt-free, and a creditor may seek legal recourse.

Source: Consumer.FTC.gov, "Debt Collection," Accessed on Aug. 26, 2014

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