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When debt collection practices violate the law

In our last post we discussed how a scam involving fake collection calls are on the rise. What happens is that scam artists posing as debt collectors call consumers and demand payment on either fake debts or debts that they have no business collecting.

While that is certainly something to be mindful of, it’s also important to realize that even legitimate debt collectors sometimes violate the law by the way they treat consumers. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is in place to help protect consumers from harassment and unfair treatment, but not every debt collector follows these laws.

For that reason, it’s extremely important to know your rights as a consumer so that you can stand up for yourself -- or seek legal assistance -- when your rights are being violated.

CreditCards.com has some helpful information when it comes to explaining the rights of consumers under the FDCPA. Here are some of the most important points to remember:

  • Debt collectors are companies hired by credit card companies and lenders to collect on past-due accounts for a commission. That means they are paid a portion of whatever they successfully recover. For that reason, they tend to be aggressive in their collection tactics.
  • The FDCPA forbids debt collectors from harassing consumers, which includes behavior such as calling you excessively, using abusive or insulting language, and threatening violence or arrest against you.
  • The FDCPA also prohibits debt collectors from disclosing the debts that you owe to unauthorized parties. For example, that means debt collectors cannot post publicly on your Facebook about your debts. It also means debt collectors can’t tell your boss or people who answer your phone about the debts.
  • Finally, the FDCPA allows consumers to ask for proof of their debts, called a Validation Notice, before they have to pay anything. That means a debt collector cannot call you and force you to pay up then and there.

If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, they you have the right to sue the debt collector individually or in a class of people whose rights were also violated.

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