Owing a debt doesn’t mean you lose your right to privacy or sense of security.
Many with personal debts face constant calls every day from relentless collection agents, demanding payments. The abrasive collection strategies employed by collection agencies to pressure borrowers into making payments led the Federal Government to take action in the form of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, commonly referred to as the FDCPA.
Have your rights under the FDCPA been violated? Knowing your rights allows you to thwart violations by collection agencies.
The FDCPA is a source of protection that every consumer should know about. This act lays the ground rules for debt collection agencies and provides borrowers with possible cause for civil action if the act is violated. The FDCPA applies only to consumer debts (debts resulting from personal, household, or familial purposes) and does not cover action taken by the original creditor.
5 ways the FDCPA protects consumers
First, you have the right to keep your financial situation private.
Personal problems with debt should not brand you with a scarlet letter. Even when trying to locate you, under the FDCPA, collection agents are not allowed to disclose to anyone other than your spouse, legal guardian, or attorney why they are trying to locate you (to collect on a debt). Likewise, any communication sent in the mail cannot have any symbol or language on the outer packaging indicating that it’s for the purpose of collecting a debt.
Second, debt collectors are not free to contact you whenever they see fit.
The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from contacting a person at a place or time they should reasonably believe to be inconvenient for the consumer. As a general matter, collection agencies may not contact you before 8 o’clock in the morning or after 9 o’clock at night. It is a violation of the FDCPA for a debt collector to contact you at work if they have reason to know this kind of communication is prohibited at your job.
Third, you do not have to endure any conduct that makes you feel threatened.
Examples of harassing behavior include using threats of force, threats of public humiliation, obscene or abusive language, etc. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are legally obliged to maintain fair collection practices. Other possible violations include cashing a post-dated check from a consumer in advance of the post date, using communication media to cause the consumer to incur financial fees, using intimidating methods such as false threats of legal action, etc.
Fourth, you have the power to make the communication stop.
This is possible by either writing a letter to the creditor to cease communications or by hiring an attorney to represent you in the matter. Once a creditor is made aware that a debtor is represented, it is a violation of the FDCPA to contact you directly, unless your attorney has given express consent. By hiring an attorney like those at McCarthy Law, you relieve yourself from all communication with the collecting party. In addition, hiring an attorney to negotiate a settlement for you can often save you thousands of dollars in reduced principal amounts.
Finally, you may have a legal course of action if the act is violated.
Under the FDCPA, consumers are entitled to recover up to $1,000 plus reasonable attorney fees if a creditor is proven to have violated any of the act’s provisions. Your state may have similar laws in place that provide for larger recoveries. A licensed attorney with experience in the area of debt collection will easily recognize violations and be prepared to take the appropriate action.
If you believe collectors have violated your rights under the FDCPA or if you would like an experienced attorney to bring an end to those endless phone calls, the attorneys at McCarthy Law can help. Give us a call today for a free consultation.