The Fair Credit Act
In this time of economic peril, many are dealing with debt collection agencies. Debt collection agencies call at all times of days, leave rude messages and add to the stress and anxiety already felt by those whose financial future is already in danger. Sometimes, you just want to unplug the phone and go hide under the bed.
What many people do not know is that even though you may owe debt, there are laws out there to limit the amount of harrassment that you have to deal with. These are laws the debt collection agencies do not want you to know about.
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits abusive collection tactics by debt collectors that harass you or invade your privacy. (15 USC §§1692-1695) To read a full text of the FDCPA go to www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fdcpa/fdcpact.htm.
Pursuant to FDCPA: A debt collector cannot:
Call you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
Call repeatedly or harrass you by phone.
Use obscene language, make negative comments about your character, or make religious or ethnic slurs.
Call you at work if the collector knows your boss does not allow such calls.
If you have an attorney, the collector should call that person, not you.
Fair play under the FDCPA also means a debt collector owes you the truth about who it is and what it intends to do. False statements and deceptive practices are not allowed. They cannot claim to be an attorney or government agent if they are not; send documents that look like legal papers when they are not and vice versa; or accuse you of a crime. A popular practice is leaving messages stating that they have "legal" papers on their desk when in truth they do not. They will even give you a "case number" inferring that a lawsuit has been brought against you.
If you believe that you are a victim to illegal debt collection tactics, you may file a complaint with the FCC by: E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org Online : www.fcc.gov/cgb/complaints.html Telephone : Voice (888) CALL-FCC, or (888-225-5322) TTY (888) TELL-FCC, of (888-835-5322) Mail : Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Consumer Inquiries and Complaint Division 445 12th Street, SW Washington, DC 20554 The following should be included in the Complaint.
- Your name, address, and daytime telephone number
- The telephone number or e-mail address at which you received an unsolicited commercial message or call, or an autodialed call
- As much specific information about the message as possible.
These are hard times. Credit counseling and debt consolidation is available but only if you have the money to invest in it. For most people these days, if they had the money to pay a credit counselor, they would pay the overdue bills.
Most people want to pay back what they owe. But if you just lost your job, your savings, and your home this may not be possible. The debt collectors, however, do not care. It is not their job to care. It is their job to get the money that is owed and by definition that is all they care about. But they do have to follow the rules when it comes to their job and cannot intimidate or harass anyone to achieve the ends they seek. If they do not follow the rules, they are in violation of the law and should be held accountable. While you may owe the money, they owe you respect. And the law is designed to ensure that you are treated in a respectful manner.
Best Wishes Everyone.