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What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?


It is important for debtors and creditors to understand that there is a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which governs debt collection practices. Under the FDCPA, there are some ground rules that debt collectors must follow. The act forbids debt collection companies from using unfair or deceptive practices to collect debts from debtors.

If a debtor faces any issue with a debt collector or a debt collection company, that person can submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The debtor can also forward the issue to the state's attorney general. Debtors also have the right to sue a debt collector in state or federal court. However, it is important to note that the FDCPA only covers collections associated with credit card debts, medical debts, mortgages and other debts related to family or households. Personal debts are also covered under the Fair Debt Collection Act, but the collection by a person from whom the debtor first borrowed money is generally not covered.

The law prohibits debt collectors from contacting the debtor at inappropriate times or places. If the workplace does not allow the debtor to receive outside calls, the debt collector is not allowed to call the debtor at work. Additionally, if the debtor has an attorney to represent the debt case, the debt collector should always go through the debtor's attorney, not the debtor. That is assuming that the debt collector has the contact information of the debtor's attorney.

In addition, the CFPB has a sample letter that helps debtors to respond to a debt collector in an appropriate manner. The letter will help the debtor to set some ground rules for the debt collector and to protect the debtor's basic rights. If the debt collector is notified in writing to stop contacting the debtor, according to the law, the debt collector is not allowed to contact the debtor. However, it's the creditor's right to pursue other legal actions to collect the debt from the debtor. The debt collector or creditor can also report negative information to a credit reporting company.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "Are there laws that limit what debt collectors can say or do?" Accessed on July 20, 2015

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