The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“the FDCPA”) is a law that regulates debt collectors. It does not apply to the creditor that originated the debt (like a credit card company or a payday lender) but it applies to any company or law firm that is hired to collect on a consumer debt or an alleged debt. It also applies to companies that bought the debt from your original creditor. Under the FDCPA, if a debt collector breaks the law, you can sue for your actual damages, additional damages up to $1,000, and attorneys’ fees. Because the law provides that we recover our attorneys’ fees from the debt collector, we will take your case at no cost to you.
Under the FDCPA, a debt collector must:
- Identify itself as a debt collector and state that any information obtained will be used to collect that debt. (§1692e).
- Provide a written notice within 5 days after the initial communication with a consumer containing the following information:
- the amount of the debt;
- the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
- a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;
- a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and
- a statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor. (§1692g)
- Apply payments on multiple debts in the order requested by the consumer.
The FDCPA also say what a debt collector cannot do in the collection of debts. The list of prohibited practices is open-ended. If a debt collector uses any means to collect a debt that can be interpreted as unfair or unconscionable, you may have a claim under the FDCPA. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot:
- Contact a consumer before 8am, after 9pm, or anytime that it knows is inconvenient for the consumer. (§1692c).
- Use false statements to collect a debt. (§1692e).
- Imply that the debt collector is a law firm when it is not or that legal action will be taken when that legal action is prohibited. (§1692e).
- Use profanity in communications with a consumer. (§1692d).
- Contact a consumer after being informed that the consumer refuses to pay the debt, that the consumer wants to cease communication, or that the consumer is represented by a lawyer. (§1692c).
- Continue to collect a debt if a consumer has sent a written notice that the debt is disputed within the first 30 days of collection. (§1692g).
- Contact a third party about a debt that you owe. (§1692b).
- Threaten imprisonment or unlawful garnishment. (§1692e).
- Falsely represent that if the debt is sold that the consumer will lose their right to dispute or challenged the debt. (§1692e).
- Use a false name to collect a debt. (§1692e).
- Use any unfair or unconscionable means to collect a debt. (§1692f).
If you are being harassed by a debt collector or if you have received phone calls or letters from a debt collector or a law firm that did not advise you of your rights above, please contact our office. We may be able to stop this harassment and put money in your pocket at no cost to you. Our consultations for debt collector harassment and FDCPA cases are free, so there is no risk in speaking with a local Mississippi FDCPA lawyer at Sheehan and Ramsey.