If you are being harassed by debt collectors, you can take action to protect your rights. Too few individuals owing debt to one or more lenders are even aware of their rights. The purpose of this article is to educate consumers about these rights, and how to protect them.
History of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The law protecting consumers from abusive debt collection practices is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This law has passed in 1977 after Congress took note of incontrovertible evidence of widespread abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by debt collectors in the U.S. Congress saw these loathsome practices as a drag on the U.S. economy by contributing to personal bankruptcies, the dissolution of marriages, job losses, and breaches of the longstanding individual right to privacy. So, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was enacted to provide new consumer protections and procedures for seeking redress of injuries caused by abusive debt collection practices. The Act itself is a piece of federal legislation – which Congress had the right to enact under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Prohibits Harassment, Oppression, and Abuse
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act targets harassing, oppressive, and abusive debt collection practices. Unfortunately, the examples of these types of practices are numerous and varied. One example of prohibited collection conduct is threatening violence or arrest, or threatening to tarnish a person’s reputation, or damage their property. The use of obscene language, whether over the phone or textually, is also prohibited by the Act. The law also makes it illegal to publish a list of consumers who allegedly will not pay debts. Repeated calls are singled out by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as well; it prohibits collectors from continuously calling an individual on the phone for the purpose of annoying, abusing, or harassing. Additionally, the law requires debt collectors to identify themselves when making a telephone call for the purpose of attempting to collect a debt.
Unfortunately, the long list of prohibited practices goes on. In addition to a history of harassment and abuse, debt collectors were found by Congress to make false or misleading representations to further their collection efforts. Because of this, they drafted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to prohibit making a false representation or falsely implying that the collector’s employer is somehow vouched or affiliated by a state or federal government. Debt collectors also sometimes make false representations about the legal status of a debt, falsely claim that they are attorneys or that their communication is on behalf of an attorney, and falsely claim that nonpayment of a debt will result in arrest of imprisonment. These practices – all of which are forms of false or misleading conduct – are clearly prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
If you have been the victim of abusive debt collection practices, contact an experienced New York debt defense attorney. With the help of a skilled attorney, you can use the protections of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to sue abusive debt collectors for breaking the law.