The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 (hereinafter “FDCPA”) is a United States statute which regulates debt collectors.

This statute covers “debt collectors”, NOT creditors collecting their own accounts. Creditor’s behavior may be regulated by state law. “Debt collectors” includes lawyers as well as collection agencies.

The FDCPA prohibits certain abusive debt collection practices, such as:

  • calling at an inconvenient time (other than between 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.)
  • contacting the debtor after being informed the debtor has an attorney
  • calling the debtor at work
  • communicating with persons other than the debtor about the debt
  • contacting the debtor after receiving a written cease and desist notice
The FDCPA also prohibits harassment, and defines some examples:
  • threats
  • obscene or profane language
  • publishing lists of debtors (except to credit reporters)
  • advertising debts for sale
  • repeated phone calls with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass
  • false statements concerning the debt (especially false threats)

The FDCPA gives you the right to put an end to collection activity by making a demand in writing (sending the collection agency a letter). Of course, once you do that, the next communication you receive may be a lawsuit.

You can also dispute the debt and demand that the agency verify the existence and amount of the debt with the original creditor. Always do this. A form letter which is perfect for this can be found here: (thx Roninspoon).

If you think a collection agency has committed any of the practices described above, see a lawyer. Your debt is no excuse and no defense to a lawsuit against a collection agency under this statute. In egregious cases, your lawyers can sue the debt collector and win their attorney’s fees from the collection agency, as well as statutory damages in the amount of $1,000.00.

This has been a Public Service Announcement from the Everything2 Bar Association.