The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the main federal law that governs against unfair debt collection practices. The FDCPA prohibits debt collection companies from using abusive, unfair or deceptive practices to collect debts from you.
The FDCPA covers the collection of:
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors include collection agencies, debt buyers, and lawyers who regularly collect debts as part of their business.
There are also companies that buy past-due debts from creditors or other businesses and then try to collect them.
These debt collectors are also usually called debt collection agencies, debt collection companies, or debt buyers.
Generally, debt collectors may not contact you at an unusual time or place, or at a time or place they know is inconvenient to you, they are prohibited from contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. .
Also, if a debt collector knows that you’re not allowed to receive the debt collector’s communications at work, then the debt collector is not allowed to contact you there.
Debt collectors may not harass you or anyone else, over the phone or through any form of contact.
if a debt collector knows that an attorney is representing you about the debt, the debt collector generally must stop contacting you, and must contact the attorney instead.
This is only true if the debt collector knows, or can easily find out, the name and contact information of your attorney. If an attorney is representing you and a debt collector calls, tell them which attorney is representing you and that the debt collector should contact the attorney, not you.
Download sample response letters prepared by the Federal Consumer Fraud Protection Bureau. The letters include tips on how to use them. Always keep a copy of the letter and responses for your records.
A debt collector communication can be a scary time and how you respond will determine the rules going forward.
If you tell a debt collector in writing to stop contacting you, the debt collector can’t contact you again except to:
**Warning: Telling a debt collector to stop contacting you does not prevent the debt collector from pursuing other legal ways to collect the debt from you if you owe it, including a lawsuit against you or reporting negative information to a credit reporting company.
Any debt collector who contacts you claiming you owe payment on a debt is required by law to tell you certain information about the debt. That information includes:
If the debt collector doesn’t provide this information when they first contact you, they are required to send you a written notice including that information within five days of the initial contact.
You can dispute all or part of the debt. You can also ask for more information if you are unsure you owe money to a creditor, or how much you might owe.
If you dispute all or part of a debt in writing within 30 days of when you receive the required information from the debt collector, the debt collector cannot call or contact you to collect the debt or the disputed part until the debt collector has provided the verification of the debt in writing to you.
You can also request that the creditor give you the name and address of the original creditor. If you make that request in writing within 30 days, the debt collector has to stop all debt collection activities until the debt collector provides you that information. If you don’t recognize the name of the creditor, ask if it might have purchased the debt from another company and, if so, what the name of that company is.
When you get the requested information or the response to your dispute from the debt collector, see if your own records agree with the information the debt collector provided.