The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enforced in 1978 as part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The mission of the FDCPA is to protect consumers against abusive debt collection as well as provide consumers with fair debt collection processes. There are many enforced regulations as well as practices that are ruled against.
The Federal Trade Commission states that there are rules to be followed for those who are locating information about the consumer.
Acquisition of location information (excerpt from section 804)
Any debt collector communicating with any person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer shall —
(1) identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer;
(2) not state that such consumer owes any debt;
(3) not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information.
Harassment and abuse (excerpt from section 806)
A debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation of this section:
(1) The use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.
(2) The use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader.
(5) Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.
Proving FDCPA Violation
One of the best things to do is to contact an FDCPA attorney if you truly feel that a debt collector is in violation. They can better advise you of how to go about proving your case (if you even have a case) and most will at least offer you a free initial consultation.
In addition, you should make it a practice to keep all documents and any correspondence that you can from debt collectors and try to get as much communication as you can in writing so that it will be easier for you to prove your case. Also, if you need to mail a letter to a debt collector for any reason, it is recommended to send it by certified U.S. mail (possibly even with a return receipt for added proof of delivery).
In addition, you should strongly consider recording the phone calls. But be advised that this is illegal in some States to record calls without the other party’s consent – so you can check if that’s the case in your State – or as a general rule, just always let the other party know that the call is being recorded. Even if you can’t catch them in violation this way, a debt collector is far less likely to “act up” if they know that you’re recording the conversation.
If a debt collection agency is in violation of any of these acts there are serious consequences. It is very important that a debt collection agency abides by the law.
The government has enforced many regulations and acts in order to protect the rights of consumers. It is important to enforce fair practices regarding debt collection processes so that consumers are protected and aware of their rights.
As a consumer facing debt issues, it is very important to know your rights. Because if you don’t know your rights, then you have no rights.
So be sure to visit the FTC website for the Complete Outline of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.