The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Significant credit card debt causes significant stress all on its own, and adding creditor and collection agency harassment into the mix can make the situation feel unbearable. Fortunately, both federal and state law provide consumer protections that limit the actions that a creditor can take in order to attempt to collect an outstanding debt.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law designed to provide limits as to when, how and from whom a debt collector can make debt collection efforts. If you have significant personal debt and are being harassed by debt collectors, an experienced attorney can help evaluate your case and determine whether you have the right to recover compensatory damages from the debt collector.
How the Fair Debt Collection Act Prohibits Certain Communications
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from harassment related to the collection of most personal debts, including mortgages, personal loans, medical debt and credit card debt. The law prevents communications from a debt collector:
- That occur at unusual times of the day, generally before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- If the debt collector knows that the debtor is represented by an attorney with respect to the debt, and the debt collector can reasonably find the attorney’s contact information
- That occur in the debtor’s workplace if the debt collector knows, or should know, that the debtor’s employer prohibits these types of communications
- That are directed toward a third party, other than the debtor’s attorney
- That take place after the debt collector has received written notification from the debtor that they refuse to pay the debt or wish communications regarding the debt to stop
Once the debt collector has received written notice that it should cease communications regarding the debt, it is only entitled to send notice that it will cease further debt collection efforts or that it has the right to, or intends to, pursue the matter in court.
Banning Harassment and Deception
Many debt collectors may resort to unscrupulous methods for collecting a debt, including harassment, abuse or attempted deception of the debtor. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits all threats of violence, as well as threats of actions that would harm the reputation or property of the debtor. The law also prohibits:
- Excessive phone calls that have the intent of annoying or harassing the recipient
- Publication of the debt, or refusal to pay the debt, except to certain consumer reporting agencies
- The use of obscene or abusive language
- Calls that fail to disclose the identity of the caller
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act also provides that debt collectors are not entitled to make false or misleading statements in an effort to collect the debt, including statements that indicate the debtor may be arrested or incarcerated for failing to pay the debt.
How a New Jersey Debt Lawyer Could Help
If a debt collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it can be held liable for up to a $1,000 fine, payment of any actual damages that you sustain, and any attorney’s fees incurred in stopping the harassment and pursuing a claim under the Act. If a debt collector is harassing you, contact an attorney for help today.
An experienced debt collection attorney can help you evaluate the validity of the debt, assess the actions of the debt collector and stop the debt collector from contacting you directly. A skilled attorney will explain your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and can work both to stop the harassment and to secure your right to compensation.