What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from harassing and potentially abusive collection practices from debt collectors. This law went into effect in 1978 and outlines a set of rules that every third-party debt collector must follow.

Identifies and Prohibits Illegal Debt Collection Methods

The FDCPA clearly states which debt collection methods are permitted and which are not. For example, debt collectors may not telephone a consumer before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. in the consumer’s time zone. Debt collectors also cannot use vulgar language or threaten a debtor either verbally or in writing. If a collection agency cannot locate an individual, it may contact the individual’s family members, but cannot discuss the debt with anyone but the debtor.

Forces Collection Agencies to Provide Debt Validation

Section 809 of the FDCPA states that, should a debtor request proof that he owes money to a collection agency, the company must provide him with written proof of the debt before it may resume collection activity. The FDCPA does not, however, give a definitive answer about what documentation a collection agency must provide as proof of a debt.

Gives Consumers the Right to Sue

If a debt collector violates any of the laws contained within the FDCPA, an individual may file a lawsuit against the company and seek damages for the violation. The statute of limitations for filing an FDCPA lawsuit is 1 year from the date of the violation.

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