Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Debt Collectors


Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Debt Collectors

Debt collectors are infamous for violating the law and harassing consumers in Alabama over debts.  Whether you owe the debt or not, NO debt collector has the right to harass you.

When you are harassed, you need to look at suing under state and federal law.  Make the abusive debt collector pay you money damages.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires that debt collectors treat you fairly and prohibits certain methods of debt collection.

The FDCPA does not cover the original creditor (for example, the credit card company to whom you owe).

The FDCPA covers anyone who regularly collects debts on behalf their clients, including collection agencies and some attorney law firms.

It also covers debt buyers who have (supposedly) purchased your debt from the original creditor.

What a Collection Agency Cannot Do:

Creditor Harassment – a collection agency may not harass you.

That does not mean they cannot call you and request payment.

However, it does mean there are certain times of the day to call you, and they cannot repeatedly call you for the purpose of harassing you.

You also have the right to stop collection calls by writing to the collection agency and informing them that you do not want to be called.  This is known as a “cease and desist” letter.

This will not eliminate the debt, but it should eliminate the phone calls.

It is illegal for a debt collector to use profanity, racial slurs, or insult you.

Here are some examples:

  • Calling you before 8 am or after 9 pm
  • Calling multiple times in a day, especially if you answer one of the calls
  • Cussing at you
  • Calling you racial names
  • Insulting you — “wouldn’t your parents be disappointed in you” or “your parents did a lousy job of raising you” etc.

False Statements – a collection agency may not use false or misleading statements to collect a debt.  This means they can’t say you committed a crime or may go to jail.  They can’t falsely imply they are an attorney or government agency, or misrepresent the amount of your debt.

This law is commonly violated in collection lawsuits, credit reports and collection letters.

Here are some examples:

  • Suing you for $5,000 when you owe nothing to the debt buyer (such as Asset Acceptance, LVNV, Midland, Portfolio, etc)
  • Putting on your credit report you owe $3,000 when you only owe, at most, $1,000
  • Threatening to sue you when the collector has no right or ability or intent to sue

Threaten You – a collection agency cannot threaten you with violence or harm, or use profanity.

Nor can it threaten a lawsuit against you or to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and the action is legal. If you have been sued, please read: I’ve Been Sued – What Should I Do?

Improper Disclosure – a collection agency cannot disclose your debt or imply you owe a debt to family members or co-workers.

In fact, they are only allowed to contact family, neighbors, or coworkers to obtain location information about you.

They routinely violate the law when they contact third parties. For more information about these issues, please click: Can a Collection Agency Call My Neighbors? or: Can a Collection Agency Call My Office or Coworkers?

What can you do to stop an abusive or harassing debt collector?  You sue for money damages.

Here’s the bottom line — it all comes down to the bottom line for debt collectors.  They harass and lie and threaten because it makes them money.

Not because they particularly want to hurt you (although sometimes we see this).

They just want your money and are willing to go to any means necessary to get your money.

They understand money.

So sue them when the break the law.

Sue them so they have to pay you money damages.

Then they will get it through their heads that “Maybe it costs us more money to violate the law than what we gain — let’s try something novel and actually follow the law.”

Maybe that’s a naive dream but my suggestion is let’s sue these collectors who break the law so often and then see what they do.

You can’t control what their corporate policy is but you can make them pay when the break the law…

Contact Us.

We invite you to schedule a free confidential consultation by calling us at 205-879-2447 or filling out our intake form on our Contact Us page to discuss your options against abusive debt collectors.

We have filed countless lawsuits in federal court and will be happy to help you get the money you deserve and stop the abuse.

I look forward to chatting with you.

Have a great day.

-John G. Watts


10 Comments

  1. JAY RODRIGUEZ says:

    I need to know if a collector is require to leave the mini Miranda in the voice mail in Alabama. I have this collection agency calling me and no mini Miranda is on the voice mail massage

    • John Watts says:

      Jay,

      If the debt collector is subject to the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) then yes the mini miranda must be left.

      To be subject to the FDCPA, you have to be a consumer (i.e. human not a business), the debt is not business debt, and the collection agency is a company that collects defaulted debts of another company or it purchased the debt when it was in default.

      Save the voicemail messages to prove the warning is not on there.

      If you want to chat about this, give us a call at 205-879-2447 and ask to speak to Carolyn — she can get the details and then we can talk or meet in person.

      Thanks

      John Watts

  2. Chris says:

    A former roommate and I have a debt that a collection agency has sent letters to us about. They have just recently called my roommates mother about the debt and tried to find out how to get in touch with him. The debt is from an apartment and his mother was not on our lease. By contacting her and informing her of the debt, is this not a violation of the act you speak of?

    • John Watts says:

      Chris,

      It can be.

      Normally apartment debt will be considered “consumer” debt and so the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) will apply.

      What did the collector say about the debt to your roommate’s mother? Sounds like they informed her of the debt. This normally does violate the FDCPA as this is called a “third party disclosure” — disclosing the debt to someone other than the folks who allegedly owe the debt.

      Which debt collector did this?

      Do you live in Alabama?

      If so feel free to give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be glad to chat with you about your options.

      Also check your credit reports (www.AnnualCreditReport.com) to see what this collector is saying on your credit reports.

      Best wishes and we look forward to hearing from you….

      John Watts
      205-879-2447

  3. Les says:

    I financed a car with a less than reputable company. They would start calling, texting, emailing me a couple of days before the payment was even due. I got so stressed out over the harassing contact from them that I changed my phone number. The company wound up calling the owner of my place of employment (although they had the number to my desk phone). I wound up letting the car back. I just wanted to be done with this company forever. Last week I received noticed that they filed a civil suit against me for an outrageous amount. They filed the suit in a county I don’t even live in, nor have ever done business in. Should I sue them? Can I? I answered the suit and denied all. I need all the advice I can get. I am so tired of this company plowing over me.

    • John Watts says:

      Les,

      Sorry you are dealing with this.

      Call us and let us know the details:

      Where you were sued?
      The amount sued?
      Who sued you?

      Normally you need to be sued in the county you live or where you took out the loan. There may be some claims you can make related to the calls and texts if those were to your cell phone.

      Bottom line is we need to look at this to see what your options are now.

      If you live in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be glad to chat thanks!

      John Watts

  4. Bobby says:

    I learned on Friday night that my checking and savings account had been cleaned out by a Louisiana law firm…I’m assuming there is some sort of judgement against me for this to happen…however I have not been notified of a pending lawsuit much less a judgment…since this happened Friday night I haven’t been able to speak with anyone from my bank(Wells Fargo)

    • John Watts says:

      Bobby,

      Sorry this happened. Yes normally there would have to be a judgment against you for this to happen in Alabama (I’m assuming you live in Alabama).

      First step is to figure out what happened — so your bank or Couch can tell you.

      Second step is to find out when and how you were supposedly served with the lawsuit. If you were not properly served, then the judgment can be set aside. Doesn’t make the lawsuit go away but if you get rid of the judgment, then the money has to be returned.

      If you want you can call us at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn — she can look up your name and see if there is a lawsuit/judgment listed in Alabama against you.

      Sorry about this — that’s not a fun way to start the holiday weekend. We’ll be glad to help you anyway that we can.

      John Watts

  5. Bobby says:

    Or the law firm(Couch Conville and Blitt)…what’s my next move…many thanks…

  6. Bobby says:

    John…thanks for your quick and thoughtful response…I will be speaking to both parties tomorrow and hope to get some resolution…I do live in Birmingham and will be in touch once I find out what my options are…you have been a big help…Bobby Johnson

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