Many are struggling to pay bills in the current underperforming economy. More people are falling behind on payments every day and find their accounts have gone to collection agencies. Debt collectors have become more aggressive in their collection tactics. In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission received almost 181,000 complaints about debt collectors alleging creditor harassment — a record number for a single year. Nevada consumers should know about the limits that the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act puts on debt collectors.
Application of the FDCPA
The FDCPA applies in cases where creditors are trying to collect on personal, family and household debts. It does not cover business debts. The FDCPA applies to third-party debt collectors only. If a creditor contacts a debtor personally, such as a store using an in-house collections department to pursue money consumers owe on a store credit card, the law does not apply. However, once a creditor employs an outside entity to collect, that collector must abide by the FDCPA.
The FDCPA forbids collectors from engaging in a variety of abusive collection techniques. Under the law, collectors may not:
- Discuss debt with third parties without the consumer’s consent
- Call consumers before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Call repeatedly
- Use threatening, obscene or abusive language when speaking with the consumer
- Call the consumer at work if the consumer has informed the collector that personal phone calls are not allowed by his or her employer
- Send letters that appear to be official court documents
- Threaten the consumer with arrest or jail time for non-payment of the debt
- Sue a consumer in a court far from the consumer’s residence
- Use false or misleading information when communicating with the consumer, such as pretending to be a lawyer or claiming to have started a lawsuit when the collector has not really done so
- Request post-dated checks and prosecute if they bounce
- Charge interest and fees not agreed to in the original contract
- Contact the consumer further if the consumer has asked the collector to stop in writing
Consult an Attorney
While the FDCPA offers protections for consumers from creditor harassment, it does not eliminate the debts that people owe. If you are struggling to pay your bills, talk to an experienced lawyer who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options.