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  4.  — Laws Regarding Debt Collectors and Creditors FAQs

Laws Regarding Debt Collectors and Creditors FAQs

Is there a law that regulates third-party debt collection companies?

Yes. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”), contains rules that third-party debt collection companies have to follow.  If a third-party debt collection company violates this federal statute and infringes upon the rights of a consumer, the debt collection company could have to pay the consumer up to $1,000.00, and it could also have to pay the consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs too.

Can a debt collector swear at a consumer?

No. A debt collector is not allowed to use obscene, abusive, or profane language in a conversation with a consumer, if it does, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector try to collect more than a consumer actually owes from the consumer?

No.  A debt collector is not allowed to ask that a consumer pays more than the consumer owes.  It also cannot misrepresent the debt amount.  If it does, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector try to add interest or fees to a consumer’s debt that the original loan agreement does not allow for?

No.  A debt collector is not allowed to add any interest or fees to a consumer’s debt that the original loan arrangement does not allow for.  A debt collector can only add interest or fees in certain situations, if allowed.  If it does otherwise, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector call a consumer repeatedly without the consumer’s authorization?   

No.  A debt collector is not allowed to repeatedly call a consumer.  This would be considered harassment.  If it does this, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector call a consumer between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.?

No.  A debt collector is not allowed to call a consumer between those hours, if it does it would be a violation of the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector call a consumer at a time that the consumer has already told the debt collector is an inconvenient time, or call the consumer’s workplace after knowing that the consumer’s employer would not permit such calls?

No.  A debt collector is not allowed to call a consumer at an inconvenient time, or at the consumer’s workplace after knowing that the consumer’s employer prohibits it.  If it does this, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector threaten a consumer with action that it cannot do?

No.  A debt collector is not allowed to threaten a consumer with something that it cannot and is not allowed to do.  For example, it cannot threaten to personally garnish a consumer’s wages, if the consumer resides in a state where the debt collector itself cannot garnish the consumer’s wages and only the creditor can.  If a debt collector threatens a consumer with something that it cannot do and is not allowed to do, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector threaten a consumer with the use of violence, or use violence against a consumer?

No.  A debt collector is absolutely not allowed to threaten a consumer with violence or to use violence against a consumer.  If it does this, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector try to collect more than a consumer actually owes from the consumer?

No.  A debt collector is not allowed to ask that a consumer pays more than the consumer actually owes.  It also cannot misrepresent the debt amount.  If it does, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Does a debt collector have to state that it is a debt collector when it speaks with a consumer, and when it communicates with the consumer in written and voicemail communications?

Yes.  A debt collector has to let a consumer know that it is a debt collector when it is speaking with the consumer, as well as in all voicemails left for the consumer and written communications sent to the consumer.  If it does not do this, it would be violating the FDCPA.

Is a debt collection company allowed to lie to a consumer about its true identity, or to pretend to be a government agency when it is not one?

No. A debt collection company cannot lie about its true identity or misrepresent it. If it does so it would be violating the FDCPA.

Can a debt collector, creditor, or telemarketer call or fax or text a consumer, utilizing an automatic telephone dialing machine that has the capability for predictive dialing, without the consumer’s expressly given consent?

No. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C § 227 et seq. (“TCPA”) states that a debt collector cannot call, text, or fax a consumer utilizing an automatic telephone dialing machine that has the capability for predictive dialing without a consumer’s expressly given consent.

This is often known as robocalling, when a debt collector or creditor uses an automatic telephone dialing machine with the capability for predictive dialing to call a consumer.

If a debt collector, creditor, or telemarketer violates this federal statute, it could owe a consumer between $500-1500 per unwanted call, text, or fax directed to the consumer without the consumer’s express given consent.

Should a consumer contact a lawyer if they believe that their rights were violated by a debt collector or a creditor?

Yes. Consumers should contact a law firm that tries to attain justice and damages for consumers by pursuing companies that utilize illegal debt collection methods. Many law firms offer free initial consultations. A consumer should try to contact a law firm that is licensed to practice law in the consumer’s respective state.

A consumer can also try to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), or the Attorney General’s Office in the consumer’s respective state. Some Attorney General’s Offices have consumer protection divisions that may be able to help respective consumers.