40 calls. That is the number of collection calls a former client of mine said she would get in a single day. If you have fallen behind on your bills you are likely dealing with the unpleasant reality of non-stop collection calls. While your creditors can call you if you are behind on your monthly payments, there are rules that govern these phone calls.
Despite these rules being in place there are rogue collection agencies out there that will do and say almost anything to get money out of your pocket. Understanding what these rules are and how they apply to your situation can not only stop the phone from ringing but could end up putting money in your pocket.
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits the following actions by collection agencies:
- Collection calls after 9:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m. (15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(1)).
- Contacting you if the collector knows you are represented by an attorney. (15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(2).
- Contacting you at work if it is inconvenient or they know that your employer prohibits such calls. (15 U.S.C. § 1692c(a)(3)).
- Contacting your friends, neighbors, relatives, or employer about your debt. (15 U.S.C. § 1692c(b)).
- Engage in any conduct that is harassing, oppressive, or abusive. (15 U.S.C. § 1692d)).
- Threaten violence or criminal conduct. (15 U.S.C. §1692d(1)).
- Use obscene, profane, or abusive language. (15 U.S.C. § 1692d(2)).
- Calling you repeatedly with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass 9 (15 U.S.C. § 1692d(5)).
- Collectors may not use false, deceptive, or misleading representations. (15 U.S.C. § 1692e)).
- Collectors that violate the FDCPA can be held liable for any damages you suffer, including statutory damages of up to $1,000 plus any attorney’s fees.
Who Must Follow the FDCPA Rules?
The FDCPA rules apply to the collection of consumer debts by any person who regularly collects debts owed to others, including attorneys. The typical person to whom this law will apply is someone working for a collection agency, a debt buying company, or a collection attorney. It does not apply to creditors. This means that if you owe money to the local electronics store and they are calling you for payment, the FDCPA rules will likely not apply.
The following are resources with information on the FDCPA and claims under the FDCPA:
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
This is the text of the federal statute.
National Association of Consumer Advocates
Non-profit association of attorneys and consumer advocates committed to representing customers’ interests. Its website offers additional information on fighting debt collection abuse.
Pete Barry, FDCPA Attorney
Pete is one of the best in the nation. His website is full of great information, and if you live in Minnesota he can handle your case.