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What behaviors violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that regulates how mortgage, medical billing and credit card companies may attempt to collect on a debt. It also prohibits collection agents from being allowed to use deceptive, abusive or unfair techniques to try to collect the money that you may owe them.

Debt collectors are restricted as to when or where they're allowed to contact you in an effort to collect on a debt. The FDCPA prohibits these individuals from attempting to collect money that you may owe them while at work, provided that you make it known to them that you're not authorizing them to contact you there.

They're also limited to calling within a set time frame. It's illegal for bill collectors to call you earlier than 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. They're also restricted from calling you while you're at a place or during a time that you've expressly told them was not appropriate for you.

The FDCPA also makes it unlawful for those working for debt collection companies to engage in harassing behavior towards you, whether via phone or some other method. Also, if you tell them to stop communicating with you altogether, then they're obliged to do so.

They are, however, permitted one final opportunity to interact with you before cutting off all contact. During that final call, they may confirm that you wish to no longer have communication with them. They also may advise you that they are prepared to take legal action against you for any unpaid debts.

If you inform a debt collector that an attorney is representing you regarding your debt, then that individual should understand that to mean that they should no longer communicate with you, but instead your attorney.

As a final matter, FDCPA only applies to bill collection practices related to the recovery of personal debts. Business ones are not covered by this piece of legislation.

If you'feel as if a bill collector's behavior has violated federal or state law, a consumer rights attorney can advise you of potential legal remedies that you can pursue.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "Are there laws that limit what debt collectors can say or do?," accessed June 15, 2018

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