Unfair Debt Collection

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Unfair Debt Collection

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

You do not have to suffer from abuse and harassment from debt collectors. There are laws that protect you. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted by the United States Congress in 1977 and has subsequently been revised to its present form. Generally, it prevents debt collectors, on certain types of debts, from using abusive, unfair or deceptive debt collection practices. Violators are subject to legal action by governmental agencies as well as lawsuits by individuals whose rights have been violated.

The FDCPA only applies to “consumer debts,” which are debts incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. Business debts are not covered by the FDCPA. In addition, the FDCPA only applies to debt collection by a person or company other than the original holder of the debt. For example, if a credit card company is calling you wanting payment of money you owe them, those calls are not governed by the FDCPA. The FDCPA only applies to someone who is collecting the debt of another or to a debt collector who purchases the debt from the original debtor.

There are many things a debt collector cannot do to collect a debt under the FDCPA. The violations generally fall into one or more of the following categories: improperly contacting third parties; prohibited communications practices; harassment or abuse; false or misleading representations; unfair methods to collect a debt; failing to validate a disputed debt. It would be impossible to list every FDCPA violation but some common examples include:

  • Lying to you about a debt;
  • Swearing, insulting you or using racial or other slurs;
  • Threatening you with violence or bodily harm if you do not pay;
  • Telling you that you will go to jail if you do not pay;
  • Calling before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.;
  • Calling your friends, family, or neighbors and telling them that you owe a debt;
  • Calling you at work after you have requested they not do so; and
  • Calling you when they know you have a lawyer.

A debt collector who violates the FDCPA may have to pay up to $1,000.00 dollars even if a person does not suffer any “damages.” A person can also receive money for any “actual” damages such as the loss of a job or psychological counseling or treatment related to the abusive conduct of the debt collector. In addition, debt collectors are responsible for paying attorney fees and certain costs.

Nebraska also has laws regarding debt collectors. A debtor may violate both the FDCPA and Nebraska law and be liable under both.

FAQs about debt collection and the FDCPA

Recommendations Regarding Debt Collectors

Federal Trade Commission’s Statistics on Debt Collection

Text of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

If you have believe you have been abused, harassed, threatened or treated unfairly by a debt collector, contact Lapin Law Offices for a free consultation to learn about your rights.

Please note that we do not offer the following services regarding debt: financial planning; money management; debt consolidation; debt negotiation; credit counseling; or bankruptcy representation.