The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law designed to protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices. Because there is a lot of evidence that debt collectors have historically used abusive practices and those abusive practices have increased the number of bankruptcies, caused lost jobs, and hurt families, Congress acted to prevent at least some of these practices. If a debt collector is breaking this federal law, you have rights.
Harassment or Abuse by a Debt Collector
Federal law prohibits harassment and abuse by debt collectors. They are not allowed to do anything that has the natural consequence of harassing, oppressing, or abusing any person to collect a debt. Some examples of prohibited conduct include:
- Using the threat of violence or criminal means to physically harm a person, harm his or her reputation, or harm his or her property,
- The use of obscene language to abuse the hearer or reader,
- Publishing a list of consumers who allegedly will not pay debts (under most circumstances),
- Advertising the sale of a debt to force payment of the debt,
- Repeatedly calling a person on the phone to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number,
- Making telephone calls without disclosing the caller’s identity (under most circumstances).
False or Misleading Representations
Aside from not being allowed to abuse those they are trying to collect a debt from, debt collectors also are not allowed to use false or misleading representations in order to collect a debt. This means that, amongst other things, they cannot:
- Make a false representation or falsely imply that they are vouched for or affiliated with the U.S. government or a state government
Make false representations about the amount or legal status of a debt, or about any services rendered or compensation they may receive for the collection of the debt
- Falsely claim that they are attorneys or that their communication is on behalf of an attorney
- Falsely claim that nonpayment of a debt will result in arrest or imprisonment.
Debt collectors are also not allowed to use unfair means to collect a debt. This includes, but is not limited to the following things:
- Soliciting a postdated check for the purpose of threatening a criminal prosecution
- Depositing or threatening to deposit a postdated check prior to the date on the check
- Causing charges to be mean for communications by concealing the true purpose of the communication (for example, tricking you into accepting a collect call or telegram)
- Communicating regarding a debt by post card.
Debt Collectors Can Be Held Liable for Breaking this Law
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act actually allows you to sue debt collectors for breaking this law. You can recover any actual damages you suffer plus additional damages determined by the Court. If you are successful in suing under this law, the debt collector can also be forced to pay both the court costs and your attorney’s fees.
Call Bromberg Law Office, P.C.
New York consumer protection attorney Brian Bromberg can help you assert your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You deserve to have someone on your side who will fight for you.
Call us today at 212-248-7906 or fill out the contact form below.