You would be hard pressed to find even a single person who has never faced a debt in his/her lifetime. It is one of those things everyone faces and sweats over but never discusses. If you are facing mounting debt and the stress is getting to you, there are a few things you should know about debt collection. In fact, it is your right and this is one such right about which ignorance can cost you dearly. Yes, we are talking about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Chances are you have already heard of this Act. If you haven’t, then you are just about to do yourself a big favor by reading this. To put it simply, the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act exists to ensure that you, the debtor, are never vulnerable or less protected just by the virtue of owing someone some money. That is to say that credit companies cannot resort to arm-twisting tactics or intimidation to collect their debt.
Of course, this is oversimplification and there are various clauses under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that list out the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of debt collection. But the fundamental idea is simple: as a debtor, do not put up with harassment in any form or feature. You have a right to information about your debt and ways to address it, and the company that you owe the debt to is responsible to furnish you with any information relevant to your repayment of that debt.
Here are a few things that you should know from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has a comprehensive section on communication practices to be employed in fair debt collection. Like:
- You shouldn’t be contacted before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. local time.
- If the debt collector knows that you are represented by an attorney and has his/her contact details, you may not be directly contacted unless the attorney or you yourself consent in writing to such communication.
- You also may not be contacted at your work place if the debt collector knows that your place of employment does not entertain such personal communication.
- Further, if you wish that the debt collector stop communication with you regarding the debt, you can inform the debt collector so in writing and such a written communication from you must be honored.
- Under the Fair Debt Collection Act, the debt collector cannot reveal any details about the consumer to anyone except the consumer him/herself, the consumer’s attorney and a consumer reporting agency. In other words, you cannot be “blacklisted” or defamed if you are unable to repay your debt or have fallen back on your payment. Your debt and its collection is a private affair between you and your debt collector – nobody else has any business knowing about it.
- It should go without saying that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act expressly prohibits use of profanity, verbal abuse or violence of any sort in debt collection. Even calling you continuously to annoy you constitutes harassment.
While all these things stand, this is no comprehensive guide to the Fair Debt Collection Act. There are exceptions to these rules (save the last point!); and there is a lot more to the Act. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has the full text of the Act. You can read it at this link: https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/6500-1325.html
Finally, you should know that under the Act’s definition of “debt” and “consumer” the people who come under the ambit of this Act are personal debtors. If you are a business that owes debt to some company, then your debt is not covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. But if you do qualify and think you are being wronged under any of the clauses of this Act, you should take prompt action and talk to your attorney. You can end up saving a lot of money and mental trauma by insuring that you exercise your right.