Arizona Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Violations of Fair Debt Collection Practices Do Happen – Understand Arizona Laws that Protect You
In reaction to some collection agencies overly aggressive and unsettling collection practices the federal government enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to protect consumers in debt. In Arizona, state laws regarding fair debt collection practices roughly mirror the federal law. In addition to this law, Arizona also has a statute requiring collection agencies to be licensed to practice in Arizona. However, these collection laws apply only to consumer debts, or debts that are incurred for personal, household, or family purposes.
General Overview of the Arizona Fair Debt Collection Laws
What Collection Agencies Must Do
- Represent who they are and be truthful in any representation made to you.
- Within 5 days of first contacting you, inform you of:
- The name of your creditor.
- The time and place the debt was created.
- What was purchased or serviced to create the debt.
- The date the creditor turned the account over for collection.
- Only call you during reasonable hours.
- Make a reasonable effort to contact you at home before attempting to contact your place of employment.
- Investigate any claim that you were misidentified or do not owe the debt.
What Collection Agencies Cannot Do:
- Misrepresent the state of the law to you.
- Send you written material that imitates legal documents.
- Make threats of legal proceedings unless they have filed suit or actually intend to sue.
- Continue to contact you once they know a lawyer is representing you.
- Contact you after receiving your written request to stop.
- Use unauthorized or oppressive tactics designed to harass you to pay.
- Use language to ridicule, disgrace, or humiliate you.
- Tell you that you are guilty of a crime.
- Allow its agents to use obscene or abusive language to coerce you to pay.
- Contact a third party and inform them of your debt.
Special Considerations for Debtors in Arizona
Statute of limitations
In 2011, the Arizona legislature extended the statute of limitations on credit card debt to six years. After the debtor is first notified of the debt, the statute begins to run. If the creditor or collector takes no legal action within the specified time period, the debt is considered time-barred. After this point, a collection agency can still legally make a request of payment of the debt, but can no longer sue to collect the debt.
Some states require consent from both parties to record a phone call from a collector. However, in Arizona you can record a call from a debt collector without their consent. This may be a good idea so you have a record of what was said for evidence of possible violations.
Remedy for Violation
The FDCPA allows consumers who have suffered a violation of the act to personally sue the collection agency and recover damages of up to $1,000 plus reasonable attorney fees. The Arizona law, however, affords only administrative remedies for violation of the statute. Thus, a collection agency found to be violating the Arizona law (i.e. practicing without a license) may be suspended from practice in Arizona, but this will generally bring no monetary relief to the injured consumer. For this reason, many debtors choose to file under the federal FDCPA.
In any case, an Arizona resident can report any violations to the office of the Arizona Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
If you are in debt and feel you may have been harassed by a collection agency or you want to learn your options for dealing with your debt, contact McCarthy Law for a free consultation with an attorney.