The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Top 5 Things You Should Know

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits creditors from contacting consumers during certain hours and at their place of employment in limited circumstances. Codified in Title 15, Section 1692 of the United States Code, Congress enacted this federal law to protect consumers against deceptive debt collection practices.

Known as the “FDCPA,” the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not cover all types of debts. It does not apply to non-third party debts and commercial or business debts. The FDCPA applies to third party debt collection practices for family and household debts, mortgages and car loans. It also applies to credit card debts and medical debts. Thus, your credit card company may contact you at any time without being subject to the FDCPA. However, your credit card company cannot delegate its responsibilities to a third party debt collection agency without being required to comply with the federal FDCPA.

What does the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act require? Here are the top three things you need to know about the FDCPA:

1. According to the federal law, third party debt collection agencies cannot contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Although they can contact you at home during these hours, you may ask them to stop contacting you at work. If they continue calling you at work after you’ve told them to stop calling you at work, you can file a consumer complaint against the agency by contacting the Federal Trade Commission.

2. All third party debt collectors must send you a written validation notice upon request after the first contact. This notice must include the debt collector’s name, the amount in dispute and how you can dispute the debt.

3. If you do not believe you owe the debt, you can ask the collection agency to stop contacting you by sending a written cease and desist letter within 30 days of the date it mails the written validation notice.

4. If the debt collection agency provides proof you owe the debt, it may disregard the cease and desist letter and continue contacting you. However, collection agencies have an affirmative legal obligation to contact creditors and credit reporting agencies that you are disputing the debt.

5. Debt collectors may face serious civil monetary penalties. You may be able to win money damages against debt collection agencies that violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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