Questions and Answers About the FDCPA

Q.  What is the FDCPA?

A.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is a federal statute that regulates debt collectors and prevents them from engaging in abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices in their efforts to collect a debt.

Q.  What type of debts are covered under the FDCPA?

A.  FDCPA defines the term “debt” as an alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money out of a transaction that are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.  Common examples of such a debt are credit card debt, auto loan, medical bills, mortgage, and services.  The FDCPA does NOT apply to debts that are incurred to a business.

Q.  When is a debt collector allowed to contact me?

A.  A debt collector is prohibited from contacting a debtor at anytime that is unusual or inconvenient for the consumer.  Unless the debt collector knows otherwise, convenient times are between the times of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.  A debt collector can never contact a consumer who they know to be represented by an attorney unless the attorney consents to the communication or is otherwise unresponsive.

Q.  Can a debt collector contact a consumer at work?

A.  A debt collector may contact a consumer at work unless the debt collector knows that the consumer is prohibited from receiving such calls.

Q.  Can a debt collector contact a third-party about my debt?

A.  Yes, but only to obtain your phone number, your address, and place of work.   However, a debt collector may not contact anyone if they know the consumer is represented by an attorney.

Q.  What must a debt collector tell me about my debt?

A.  Within five days of the initial communication with a consumer, a debt collector must send a validation letter containing the amount of the debt, a statement that unless the consumer disputes the debt the debt will be assumed to be valid, a statement if the consumer notifies the collector in writing within thirty days that the debt is disputed the debt collector shall obtain verification of the debt and mail it to the consumer, and a statement that upon request within thirty days of the initial communication that the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor.

Q.  What kind of actions are debt collectors prohibited from engaging in?

A.  A debt collector may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person in its attempts to collect a debt.  They may not use threats of violence or other criminal means to harass the consumer, use profane language or abusive language, publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay debts, attempt to collect a debt not authorized by law, threaten criminal prosecution, threaten to take any action not permitted by law.

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