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Did You Know

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act

Knowing the rules will help you play the collection game.

You are protected by The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is federal law that protects consumers from harassment and abusive collection styles. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies to collection efforts that are employed by persons other than the original creditor "that regularly collect debts owed to others."

The FDCPA applies to third party collectors who have purchased accounts or been hired by an "original creditor" to collect on a debt. Original credit institutions are not required to abide by the provisions set forth by the act. Understanding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and letting the creditors know that you understand your rights is often one of the most effective ways of dealing with collectors and their unsubstantiated threats.  

FDCPA When a debt collector calls:

When a collector contacts you, at some point in the conversation they must advise you that they are calling from a collection agency. They are required to identify the name of the original creditor and the amount of the balance on the account that is being collected upon. This is important because it allows you to determine whether it is a bill on which you feel your are responsible for paying or on which you have a dispute. If the collector was not required to advise you of the balance and original creditor, you might pay on a bill that you are not legally responsible for or you might pay more than you are legally required to. The collector must advise you that the purpose of the call is for collecting a debt and that the information provided by you will be used for the purpose collecting a debt. The collector is also required to advise that you reserve the right to dispute the debt within 30 days.  

FDCPA Restrictions governing debt collectors:

Tactics that are not permitted:

  • The debt collector cannot repeatedly call you.
  • If you request that collectors do not call you at work, they must stop.
  • Collectors can not use foul language or threaten a consumer with violence, seizure of assets, or imprisonment. They cannot use language that is insulting, discriminatory or belittling.
  • Without obtaining your permission, collectors are not permitted to tell any person other than yourself, a cosigner, your spouse, or your attorney that you owe a debt.
  • The debt collector can not publish your name and the nature of the debt. They may not threaten to harm your reputation as a measure to collect a debt.
  • A debt collector cannot call you or in any way contact you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9 p.m. in accordance with your local time zone.
  • A collection agency cannot deposit a post-dated check prior to the date on the check.
  • A collection agency cannot collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law.  

Rules governing false representation:

  • A debt collector cannot misrepresent who he/she is. The collector may not pretend that he/she is someone else or that he/she represents a business or agency that he/she does not. A collector cannot falsely imply that he is an attorney or government representative. They cannot indicate that forms or letters that are sent to you are legal forms if they are not.
  • The collector cannot falsely imply that you have committed a crime. They cannot threaten that you will be arrested if you do not pay a debt.
  • A debt collector may not offer false information to get you to pay a debt. In other words, a collector may not tell you or write to you advising that he/she is going to sue you, garnish your wages, or attach personal property if he does not actually have the intent to do so.
  • A collector can not falsely represent that they work for a credit bureau.  

What to do if collection activity becomes unbearable:

In accordance with the FDCPA, if dealing with third party collectors becomes unbearable you may send Cease and Desist Notification to them, which requires them to stop contacting you. Frustrated consumers do this when there is no end in sight to the constant calls and emotional distress that unrelenting collection attempts may be causing. When a debt collection agency receives Cease and Desist Notification, they cannot communicate further with the consumer with respect to the debt:

"except -

  • to advise the consumer that the debt collector's efforts are being terminated
  • to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specific remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor: or
  • where applicable, to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specific remedy."

Cease and Desist notification is applicable to third party collectors only. If you send a Cease and Desist letter to an original creditor, they are not required to refrain from calling you and they may respond negatively and heighten their collection efforts. It is important to remember that sending Cease and Desist Notification does not pardon you from repayment of a debt. The fact that your life will be relatively more peaceful does not mean that your obligations have gone away. If you send Cease and Desist notification to your creditors, you should continue to make consistent monthly payments to establish that you are committed to paying back the balance owed. If possible, try to pay about 2% of the balance on a monthly basis. If you do not establish that you are committed to repaying the debt, and the creditors cannot contact you, they may be prompted to try to collect on the debt by suing you. As a safeguard, it is best to have Cease and Desist Notification delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested, because you will have concrete proof that the collector received it.

Landmark Consumer Credit Services
4699 North Federal Highway, Suite 107
Pompano, FL 33064

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