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Fair Debt Collection Act: Understand These Important Rules

By:  John C. Anderson|LRL Writer

Fair Debt Collection Practices ActFDCPA, or, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a statutory law, is designed to promote the Consumers from being harassed in any unedifying or undignified manner by collection agents. It is well-known that collection agents resort to many unfair means to recover debt and often the consumers find themselves in a hapless situation. The Fair Debt Collection Act also takes into consideration that the consumer does not hide behind the fair provisions of the law and willfully defaults on his obligation to his creditor.

The act is well-intentioned to protect the consumer from what it aptly calls 'deceptive' and 'abusive' practices of debt collectors. Even from the first step of acquiring information about contacting the consumer, i.e., to find about his residence or office, clear provisions are made to ensure that debt collector does not go about in an impudent manner prejudicial to the dignity of the consumer.

If the consumer had stated his intention of disputing the debt and given his attorney's name, the collector shall not contact the consumer at all but only his attorney. Similarly when a consumer gives consent to meet a debt collector or the latter is authorized by a competent legal forum to contact him, the same can be done only between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. and not during unearthly hours!

It is equally well-known that debt collectors resort to some highly objectionable practices to cow down, threaten and intimidate the consumer for the recovery of debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, accordingly gives a fairly comprehensive list of prohibited actions on the part of a debt collector. The collector should not issue threats of violence or for that matter use abusive or degrading language while talking to the consumer.

In fact the practice of even ringing the telephones of the consumer frequently or writing a letter on a post card to the consumer with an intent of annoying is strictly prohibited. When a consumer had told the debt-collector that superior officials in the office would not like the visits to office by third parties, the debt-collector shall desist from visiting the office.

In the name of making enquiries about the consumer when the collector speaks to friends or relations, he is refrained from making mention of the debt or other details pertaining to the consumer. They would come under 'harassment'. Any false representation regarding the nature of debt or the amount outstanding would also be deemed as 'unfair practice'

A debt has to be properly validated and the Fair Debt Collection Act takes care to protect both the interests of the creditor and the consumer in this regard. The communication to the debtor regarding the debt should carefully state the amount, how it was contracted etc. in proper manner. If the consumer states within thirty days of receiving the notice his intention to dispute the contents relating to the debt, the debt-collector shall provide proper proof.

The Federal Trade Commission Act has enough powers to deal with an errant debt-collector for civil liabilities in case there are violations of the provisions meant to safeguard the consumer.

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