The United States Congress recognized that many debt collectors engage in abusive, deceptive, and unfair practices when attempting to collect alleged debts. The misrepresentation and harassment have led to personal bankruptcies, marital instability, job loss, and invasions of privacy. To combat the problem and insure fairness for debt collectors engaged in legal activities, Congress enacted the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to stop the abusive and deceptive debt collection practices.
The FDCPA applies to third party debt collectors and third-party debt collection law firms. The FDCPA does not cover entities attempting to collect their own debts. The FDCPA establishes legal requirements that the debt collection agency must comply with when collecting debt. Unfortunately, many of debt collectors are ignorant of the FDPA’s guidelines or otherwise ignore the law all together. These debt collection companies will violate your rights on a regular basis with complete disregard for he law. If you believe your rights have been violated, please contact us to discuss your situation. You may be entitled to $1,000 in statutory damages.
Common Federal Unfair Debt Collection Violations Include:
Debt collector cannot directly contact consumers after the consumer obtains legal representation.
The debt collector cannot contact the consumer after the consumer is represented by an attorney. The fastest and most effective method of getting debt collection calls to stop is an inexpensive cease and desist letter from an attorney demanding termination of direct contacts with the consumer. Click HERE to talk with the Johnson Law Office regarding sending cease and desist letters to debt collectors.
Debt collectors are regulated regarding when, and with whom, they may contact.
- The debt collector cannot communicate with third parties regarding the debt except for the acquisition of local information. These violations typically include contacts with relatives, friends, landlords, coworkers, employers, etc. and involve the debt collector mentioning the alleged debt.
- The debt collector cannot contact the consumer at an unusual time or place that the debt collector knows is inconvenient. The generally acceptable time period for a debt collection call is 8am to 9pm.
- The debt collector cannot contact the consumer’s place of employment if the debt collector has reason to know the consumer’s employer prohibits such calls.
Debt collectors cannot engage in conduct that is intended to harass, oppress, or abuse the consumer.
- The debt collector cannot threaten the use of violence.
- The debt collector cannot use obscene or profane language.
- The debt collector is prohibited from publishing the consumer’s name on a “deadbeat list” or list of people refusing to pay the alleged debts.
- The debt collector cannot make repeated phone calls or continuos phone calls with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass. These violations include repeated calls to third parties.
Debt collectors cannot make false, deceptive, or misleading representations when attempting to collect a debt.
- The debt collector threatens to file a lawsuit on an old debt that is barred by the Statute of Limitations. The statute of limitations is 6 years on a credit card debt in Colorado and possibly as little as 3 years depending on the terms of the cardholder agreement.
- The debt collector cannot misrepresent the character, amount, or legal status of the debt. These violations include attempts to collect from the wrong person or stating amount that are more than what is owed (usually after a negotiated payment plan).
- The debt collector cannot misrepresent services rendered or compensation that can lawfully be received by the debt collector.
- The debt collector cannot misrepresent that he or she is an attorney unless the individual is a licensed attorney.
- The debt collector cannot represent or imply that non-payment will result in imprisonment. There is no Debtor’s Prison. You cannot be sent to jail for not paying your debts.
- The debt collector cannot threaten to sell, refer, or transfer the account and imply that the debtor will lose a right to a legal claim or defense.
- The debt collector cannot or falsely represent that the debtor committed a crime or other conduct that disgraces the consumer.
- The debt collector cannot communicate or threaten to communicate credit information which the debt collector should know is false. These violations include failing to communicate that a debt is disputed.
- The debt collector cannot lie or use deception in order to obtain information about the consumer or attempt to collect an alleged debt.
- During the debt collector’s first communication, the debt collector must state he or she is attempting to collect a debt.
- The debt collector cannot fabricate and use false legal documents.
- The debt collector cannot misrepresent that he or she represents a credit reporting agency.
Debt collectors cannot use unfair or unconscionable means to collect an alleged debt.
- The debt collector is only allowed to collect amounts authorized by law.
- The debt collector may only accept and cash post-dated check under specific circumstances.
- The debt collector cannot threaten or take property without the legal right to do so or intent to do so.
- Debt collectors must properly validate debts under specific circumstances. However, the standard for validation is extremely low and rarely provides useful information or gets the debt collection behavior to stop.
The Johnson Law Office May Be Able to Assist You By:
- Having all debt collection phone calls and letter immediately cease. The Johnson Law Office will send a cease and desist letter to any and all debt collectors informing them that you are represented by an attorney and that all communications must immediately stop. Debt collectors must comply with this request. You may be entitled to up to $1,000 in statutory damages if the debt collection letter or phone calls continue directly to you.
- In some situations, the Johnson Law Office may be able to reduce or completely eliminate your debt.
- Sue the debt collector in federal court for the FDCPA violations. The FDCPA provides for compensation up to $1,000 for each debt collector violating the law. The FDCPA is a fee-shifting statute. This means the debt collector is required to pay your attorneys fees if you prevail in litigation or resolve the case by a mutually agreeable settlement.