How creditors may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

We borrow money, intending to make full repayment. However, life sometimes throws a curveball, and we get behind on our bills.

When that happens, several businesses will work with you while you get back on your feet. Still, others aren’t as accommodating. That’s when it’s essential to understand your protections under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to recognize when your rights are being violated.

Protection from abuse and deception

The FDCPA is a federal law enacted in 1977 to protect consumers from unfair debt collection practices. Unfortunately, violations by creditors and collection agencies continue to occur despite clear guidelines and restrictions.

One of the primary violations of the FDCPA is harassment or abuse, which can include:

  • Making repeated phone calls intended to annoy or harass anyone answering the phone
  • Using obscene or profane language
  • Threatening violence or harm to you, your property or reputation

It’s also common for creditors and debt collectors to use deceptive practices to collect debts by:

  • Misrepresenting the amount owed
  • Claiming to be an attorney or a government representative
  • Implying that nonpayment will result in arrest and imprisonment

There are also specific rules regarding communications. Common violations include:

  • Contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Contacting you at work after being advised that such calls are not allowed by the employer.
  • Discussing the debt with third parties, such as family, friends or employers.

These practices invade the consumer’s privacy and can cause significant embarrassment.

If you believe a creditor has violated your rights under the FDCPA, it’s crucial that you document everything by keeping detailed records of all communications with the debt collector. You can send a cease communication letter to stop the harassing phone calls and file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It’s important to note that you don’t have to handle this alone. There are resources who will advocate for you and guide you throughout the process.


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