When a debt collector violates provisions included in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it may be liable for significant civil penalties. Recognizing prohibited conduct can help a consumer know when his or her rights have been violated and when recovery may be applicable.
Violations of the FDCPA
Debt collectors are required to comply with the federal FDCPA. They are not permitted to lie about the amount that a person owes or misrepresent the amount that the debtor owes. Likewise, the debt collector is not allowed to mandate that the consumer pay interest, fees or expenses not permitted by law, such as additional fees that he original creditor did not make part of the agreement. Furthermore, the debt collector cannot threaten to take action that is not legally able to take, such as filling a claim in violation of the statutes of limitations, garnishing wages, seizing property or taking other property when it has no legal right to do so.
The FDCPA regulates how debt collectors can contact consumers and what actions it can take. Specific violations include calling a consumer in a manner that is considered harassing in nature, using obscene or abusive language, calling before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. or threatening to use violence if the consumer does not repay the debt. The debt collector is also not permitted to contact third parties unless they have permission. Additionally, the debt collector cannot contact the consumer at work if he or she has told the debt collector that the employer does not approve of these calls.
The FDCPA also provides provisions related to credit repair and correcting inaccurate credit information. Debt collectors are required to send a written notice about the debt, the amount of debt alleged, the original creditor’s name and the consumer’s right to dispute the debt within five days of the initial communication. If the debt collector receives a dispute request, it is required to investigate it. It must stop collection activities if a dispute is made within 30 days of receiving notice of the debt.
Remedies for FDCPA
The FDCPA provides for a variety of remedies, including injunctive remedies, such as requiring the debt collector to stop contacting the consumer, his or her family, and his or her work. It may also order action that assists with credit repair, such as requiring the debt collector to correct credit information. Monetary damages may also be available.