The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Part III

We complete our discussion on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act today by beginning with the information that every debtor is really looking for: conduct that is strictly prohibited in collection efforts. The main standard to remember here is that a debt collector cannot engage in conduct that involves abuse or harassment. This is a wide ranging standard that doesn't have a clear cut definition, and as a result, is probably best defined by listing certain things that the creditor cannot do.

The debt collector obviously cannot threaten you with violence. This includes violence to your property or directly to you. That is obviously a form of abuse or harassment. A debt collector cannot threaten to harm your reputation. This is defamatory conduct in nature that clearly falls into the abuse and harassment standard. The debt collector cannot use profane language or call you repeatedly with the intent of harassing the debtor. Importantly, the debt collector cannot use false or misleading statements, which especially prohibits him from misrepresenting the amount of the debt or claiming to be an attorney. Unless he actually intends on following through with the threat, he cannot tell you he is going to take your property or garnish your wages.

Along these same lines, it is important to know what remedies you have if you feel you suffered a violation of the FDCPA. You can obviously sue the debt collector in state or federal court. You have a year to do so and can receive damages per violation incurred. There are attorneys who deal specifically with that issue. Of course, as a debtor you hope you never have to deal with violations of the FDCPA, but it helps knowing that it is there. That, and bankruptcy, are the two largest protections debtors have in this country.