The Fair Debt Collections Practice Act (FDCPA) has been in force for nearly 40 years, but there are still debt collection agencies who may be unaware of its provisions. Some commentator state that the Act was enacted to protect consumers from unscrupulous collectors who engaged in deceptive and unfair debt collection practices. According to its provisions, it was also designed to protect “reputable debt collectors from unfair competition.” There are a number of rules that collection agencies must follow to protect themselves from state action for violations.
Although the rules seem mostly straightforward and should be followed, there are still collectors who violate its requirements. Violations can be expensive with hefty fines imposed. If you are a collector, you need to be aware of some common violations.
- Calling consumers before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. To avoid this rule violation, collectors must check the time zone of the consumer. It may be 8 a.m. in New York where the collector is calling from, but that means 5 a.m. for the West Coast states. Conversely, if the collector is on the West Coast, it may be 6 p.m, but already it is 9 p.m. on the East coast. Collectors must be sure to check the consumer’s time zone before making the call.
- Using abusive, profane, or harassing and threatening language. No matter how frustrated you are, and no matter how many phone calls you have made to the same person for the same debt, be polite. Do not call them incessantly or call over and over and let their phone ring after they have told you they do not want to talk to you.
- Continuing debt collection practices after debtors have informed you, in writing, that they either intend not to pay or have requested that you to stop contacting them. The Act specifically forbids you from continuing collection procedures after you have received this type of notification. These are just a few of the forbidden practices that debt collectors commonly violate. In order to avoid civil liability, paying damages and hefty fines, debt collectors must familiarize themselves with all of the requirements of the FDCPA and discipline themselves to make certain they follow all the rules.