- Posted on: Sep 28 2022
By: Carolyn Williams [9/30/22]
There are times when a debt collector may reach out to you in an attempt to collect a debt. Here are a few things that you will need to be aware of in order to protect your rights.
The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law, prevents debt collectors seeking to collect consumer debts from engaging in unfair practices and harassment by protecting debtors from the following actions:
- Debt collectors are not permitted to call you before 8:00 am and after 9:00 pm. Call times are based on your local time zone.
- Debt collectors are not permitted to call you during times that they know would be inconvenient. This includes weekends, holidays, and times that you have specifically told them not to call.
- Debt collectors may not call you collect forcing you to accept the charges.
- Debt collectors may not contact you at work if you have informed them that your employer does not approve of these calls.
- Debt collectors can send you text messages and emails. However, they are required to provide you with opt-out instructions with every message that they send.
- Debt collectors are required to cease collection attempts if you notify them in writing that you no longer wish to be contacted regarding the debt.
- Within 5 days of the initial communication, debt collectors are required to provide you with a validation notice which provides you with the name and contact information for the original creditor (not necessarily the current creditor of the debt); the debt collectors’ name and address and the debtor’s name and address; the account number associated with the debt; why they believe the debt is owed; the current amount owed and an itemization of the debt and the date the debt was incurred; it must mention that you have 30 days to dispute the debt and how to dispute the debt; and, it must contain a statement that the communication is from a debt collector.
- Once you notify the debt collector in writing that you are requesting verification of the debt, the debt collector is required to cease collection of the debt until they provide you with validation or verification of the debt. Debt collectors have an indefinite amount of time to verify the debt. However, the debt collector may not continue with collection of the debt until the verification is provided if you responded to their validation notice within 30 days of receipt of it.
- When a debt collector contacts you, they are required to provide you with a mini-Miranda warning stating that “this is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.”
- Debt collectors may not attempt to collect a debt that is time-barred by the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations depends on the type of debt that it is and the law of the state you are located in or the laws stated in your credit agreement. The statute of limitations begins to run as of the date that the last payment is made. A payment on a debt resets the clock for the statute of limitations.
- Debt collectors are not permitted to use abusive, obscene, or profane language.
- Debt collectors are prohibited from informing third parties of your alleged debt unless you expressly permit them to do so. The only exception to this rule is that debt collectors are permitted to inform your attorney, the creditor, the creditor’s attorney, a credit reporting agency, your spouse, and your parent (if you are a minor).
- Debt collectors are permitted to contact third parties solely to obtain location information. However, they are not permitted to contact the third party more than once unless they reasonably believe the information previously provided to them was false or incorrect.
- Debt collectors may not engage in unfair or deceptive practices to get you to pay the debt such as misrepresenting the amount of the debt owed, asking you to pay interest and fees not permitted by law, or making threats to commence legal action when they do not intend to do so, threatening to take your house, threatening to have you thrown in jail, or any other action that is intended to deceive you into paying the debt.
If a debt collector files a lawsuit against you, be sure to respond either yourself (pro se) or with the assistance of an attorney. This will preserve your rights and avoid a default judgment being entered against you.
This list is not exhaustive but, if a debt collector engages in one or more of these practices, it is considered an FDCPA violation. You may sue in federal and state for damages such as lost wages and medical bills. If you can’t prove damages, you may still be awarded up to $1,000, plus reimbursement of attorney’s fees and court costs.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to one of our attorneys. To learn about how Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig can assist you with your legal needs, contact us by calling 800-747-9354 or by emailing email@example.com.