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What debtor protections are there to prevent unfair practices?

When a Texan owes money to creditors, the worry can be overwhelming. Part of that might be a trace of guilt for accruing debt and not having the wherewithal to pay it. In some instances, that guilt might lead to the person taking abusive behavior from creditors because he or she feels it is warranted. But, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from abusive creditor behavior. Understanding unfair debt collection practices is important to protecting oneself from these tactics that a creditor might use.

According to FDCPA, the collectors are not allowed to use what is considered unfair or unconscionable methods in trying to collect the debt. According to the law, the collection of the amount owed - including interest, fees, and other expenses - cannot be made unless it is authorized by the agreement that led to the debt, or collection is within the law. Furthermore, the debt collector cannot accept a check or other payment that is postdated by more than five days unless the person is told in writing that there is an intent to deposit this check in no more than ten and no less than three business days before it is deposited. The debt collector cannot solicit a postdated check or other payment to threaten or institute criminal prosecution.

The collector is not allowed to deposit or threaten to deposit a postdated payment before the date on the payment device. The collector is also not allowed to make collect telephone calls, or force the debtor to incur telegram fees or other charges for communication to conceal its true purpose. There cannot be non-judicial action taken, nor can there be a threat of non-judicial action taken to disable or dispossess property if there is no right on the part of the creditor to do so; if there is no intention to do so; or if the property is exempt. In addition, the creditor cannot communicate with the debtor by postcard.

Finally, there can be no language or symbol other than the address of the debt collector when there is communication through the mail or via telegram. The debt collector can use its business name, provided it does not say that it is a debt collector. Debtors might be concerned about such threats as wage garnishment, the confiscation of property and other methods to collect on consumer debt. But, there are laws with debtor protections to prevent illegal behaviors. Those who believe that a debt collector has crossed the line in trying to collect from them should speak to a lawyer about their case.

Source: ftc.gov, "808. Unfair practices," accessed on June 7, 2016

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