About the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

By Erik Neilson , last updated August 27, 2011

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was put in place to help stop harassment from occurring when companies attempt to collect a debt, and can be used to your advantage if you feel as if your rights have been violated. Anyone who is in a large amount of debt has likely dealt with what might be considered a form of harassment by credit card companies or collection agencies. Being in debt can be stressful enough without having to deal with the pressure that these companies tend to dish out in order to get you to pay large sums of money at a time, and many people end up hiring a lawyer or filing for bankruptcy simply to stop the phone calls from coming. The following information about the FDCPA should help you determine whether or not you may need a lawyer in order to take action against a creditor or collection agency that has violated your rights.

Types of Debt Covered by the FDCPA

The FDCPA covers a variety of different types of debt, most of which are quite common. Personal debt, family debt and household debt are all covered by the FDCPA. Furthermore, these debts can include money you owe on auto loans, credit cards, your mortgage and even medical bills. That said, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not cover any debt that you have incurred from attempting to start or run a business.

How Debt Collectors Can Contact You

When it comes to contacting you to pay off a debt, collectors need to follow a certain protocol in order to avoid violating the FDCPA. You can be contacted by fax, telephone, mail or even in person, although the important distinction is that you cannot be contacted at unreasonable times of the day (such as early morning or late evening hours). If you make it clear that your employer does not approve of debt collectors contacting you at work, they are not allowed to call your place of business.

Stopping Debt Collectors from Contacting You

Many people don’t realize that there are things that can be done in order to stop debt collectors from contacting you. By writing a cease and desist letter to the agency or company that continues to attempt to contact you, you can block them from contacting you except in order to tell you that contact will be stopped. That said, you may still be notified if the collector intends to take action at some point.

Collectors that Contact Friends or Family

It’s not uncommon for debt collectors to attempt to locate you by contacting friends and family. While this is technically allowed, they cannot contact these individuals more than once, and only to find out information about your whereabouts. If you have a lawyer on your side, however, debt collectors are only allowed to contact your lawyer, and cannot contact your friends or family for any reason. In addition, debt collectors are usually barred from being allowed to tell anyone other than your attorney or yourself that you owe them money.

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