What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (often referred to as the “FDCPA”) is a federal consumer protection law that is designed to regulate the conduct of debt collectors and the debt collection industry. The law applies to collection agencies, law firms, and other people who are hired by companies to attempt to collect outstanding debt. The FDCPA does not apply to the actions of the company that owns the debt.
What Protections Does the FDCPA Provide
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides two basic types of protections. First, the FDCPA provides consumers with certain rights, including: (1) the right to stop all collection contacts, (2) the right to require a collector to deal with the consumer’s attorney, and (3) the right to require the collector to verify the accuracy of the debt it is trying to collect.
Second, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits and/or restricts certain abusive conduct by debt collectors. The purpose of these prohibitions is to protect consumers from harassment, unfair practices, and deceptive communications.
Common Debt Collector Tactics that Violate the FDCPA
Though the FDCPA makes clear what debt collection practices are illegal, collection agencies and others routinely violate the law. Below is a list of just some of the collection tactics and conduct that violate the FDCPA:
Attempting to collect interest, fees, and/or penalties that are not set out in the original contract
Requesting a post-dated check
Calling a consumer collect
Attempting to collect a debt that is older than the applicable statute of limitations (in Missouri, generally 5 if there is no written contract or 10 years if there is a contract)
Failure to tell the consumer that a letter or phone call is from a debt collector
Failure to tell the consumer the accurate amount of the debt
Giving the impression that the collector is affiliated with a governmental agency
Stating or implying that failure to pay the debt will result in arrest
Threatening that failing to pay the debt will result in a lawsuit, garnishment, etc. when the collector does not actually intend to take those steps
Sending a letter that is designed to look like a legal document when it is not
How can a Consumer Law Attorney Help?
The FDCPA permits consumers to file suit to recover damages in the amount of $1,000.00 per violation or actual damages â?? whichever is greater. Additionally, the FDCPA permits consumers to recover the attorney fees they incurred in pursuing a lawsuit. Often, FDCPA suits are filed as class actions where a consumer seeks to represent not just herself but others who were also subjected to similar illegal conduct. The attorneys of Lear Werts LLP are experienced in consumer rights cases and offer free consultations to individuals who believe that they may have been subjected to a violation of the FDPA.
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