What Debt Collectors Can and Cannot Do?

People who are experiencing serious debt problems face many difficult decisions.    If they feel that they are unable to pay their creditors and debt, they may face the difficult choice of whether to consider a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.   These difficult decisions are often exacerbated by constant, harassing phone calls from debt collectors.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is Intended to Protect Consumers from Abusive Practices by Debt Collectors.

A debt collector MAY NOT:

  1. Contact a third party about your debt for any purpose other than to locate you.
  2. Identity the debt collection company name to a 3rd party without being expressly asked.
  3. Disclose to a third party a debt is allegedly owed.
  4. Communicate with a single third party more than once.
  5. Communicate or or attempt to communicate with you at inconvenient times or places.
  6. Contact you at work after being told not to.
  7. Communicate with you after receiving a letter from you (a) with a request they cease and desist all contacts or (b) that you refuse to pay the debt.
  8. Engage in harassing, oppressive or abusive conduct.
  9. Use or threaten violence or other criminal means, or use obscene or profane language.
  10. Cause your telephone to ring repeatedly or continuously.
  11. Use false, deceptive, or misleading representations or methods, including but not limited to (a) falsely representing it is affiliated with the United States or any State; (b) falsely representing the character, amount, or legal status of the debt; (c) falsely representing or implying that nonpayment would result in arrest or imprisonment or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of property or wages; (d) threatening to take an action against that cannot be legally taken or that was not actually intended to be taken; (e) falsely representing or implying that you committed a crime; or (f) communicating or threatening to communicate false or likely false credit information.
  12. Use unfair or unconscionable means in an attempt to collect a debt, including but not limited to: (a) trying to collect an amount not expressly authorized by the debt agreement/contract or other applicable law; (b) threatening to or actually depositing a postdated check prior to the date on such check; or (c) taking or threatening to take money or property where there was no present right.
  13. Continue to contact you after receiving your cease and desist or request for validation letter.
  14. Force you to pay the debt prior to expiration of your 30 day right to dispute.
  15. Sue you except in the county you signed the contract, you live or own property that is the subject of the debt.
  16. Falsely represent themselves as attorneys.

A debt collector MUST:

  1. Provide the notices required by 15 USC § 1692g either in the initial communication with you or in writing within 5 days after.
  2. Notify you in the initial communication it is “an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained would be used for that purpose.”
  3. Notify you during each collection contact the communication was from a debt collector
  4. Disclose the caller’s individual identity in every telephone call to you.

Despite the protections which are available under this and other State and Federal Laws, those encountering debt problems, debt collection, and debt collectors, or considering a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case should consult with an attorney experienced in these matters regarding their rights.


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