The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, more commonly referred to as the FDCPA, is a federal law that defines how debt collectors can act when collecting a debt from you. There are specific things a debt collector can't do. If you need to reference the law to verify whether a debt collector is acting outside the law, citations have been provided.
Ask You To Pay More Than You Owe
The collector cannot misrepresent the amount you owe. They can't say your balance is higher than it actually is.
You're allowed to ask a third-party collection agency to send proof of the debt and the amount they're pursuing you for. Make this debt validation request in writing.
Ask You To Pay Interest, Fees, or Expenses That Are Not Allowed by Law
The collector can't add on any extra fees or interest that your original credit or loan agreement doesn't allow.
Call Repeatedly or Continuously
The FDCPA considers repeat calls as harassment. You can stop debt collector calls by writing and asking them to stop calling.
Use Obscene, Profane, or Abusive Language
Using this kind of language is considered harassment.
Call Before 8 a.m. or After 9 p.m.
Call times are based on your local time zone. Calls outside the allowed times are considered harassment.
Call at Times the Collector Knew or Should Have Known Are Inconvenient
This might include weekends, holidays, or other times you've specifically informed the collector not to call you. Calls at inconvenient times are considered harassment.
Use or Threaten To Use Violence If You Don't Pay the Debt
Collectors can't threaten violence against you. Threats could be breaking more than just debt collection laws.
Threaten Action They Cannot or Will Not Take
Collectors can't threaten to sue or file charges against you, garnish wages, take property, cause job loss, or ruin your credit when the collector cannot or does not intend to take the action.
Illegally Inform a Third Party About Your Alleged Debt
Unless you have expressly given permission, collectors are not allowed to inform anyone about your debt except:
- your attorney
- the creditor
- the creditor's attorney
- a credit reporting agency
- your spouse
- your parent (if you are a minor)
Repeatedly Call a Third Party To Get Your Location Information
The collector can only contact a third party once unless it has reason to believe the information previously provided is false.
Contact You at Work Knowing Your Employer Doesn't Approve
A collector is not allowed to contact you at work if you’ve let them know your employer doesn’t approve of these calls. The collector also isn't allowed to let your employer or co-workers know that they're a debt collector.
You can send a written cease and desist letter to stop a debt collector from calling you at work.
Fail To Send a Written Debt Validation Notice
Within five days of the collector's initial communication, it must send you a notice include the amount of the debt, name of the creditor, and notice of your right to dispute the debt within 30 days.
Ignore Your Written Request To Verify the Debt and Continue To Collect
A collector can't continue to collect on a debt after you've made a written request to verify the debt as long as the request was made within 30 days of the collector's written notice.
Continue To Collect on the Debt Before Providing Verification
After receiving your written dispute, the collector must stop collecting on the debt until you have received verification.
Continue Collection Attempts After Receiving a Cease Communication Notice
If you make a written request for the collector to cease communication, it can only contact you one more time, via mail to let you know one of the following: that further efforts to collect the debt are terminated, that certain actions may be taken by the collector, or that the collector is definitely going to take certain actions.