If you’ve been in debt to a lender, you may have experienced complications when it comes to resolving the debt collections process. You may have incurred additional fines, sustained threats or calls that are considered harassment or run into debt resolutions issues with collections. If this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Household total debt in the United States rose to 15.24 trillion at the end of the third quarter of 2021, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. If you are in debt through lines of credit, mortgage, student loans, or in any other way that requires collection via a third party, you have rights. In this article, we examine what the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act is, and what rights are protected when it comes to debt collection practices.
The FDCPA was signed into law in March of 1978. The original purpose of the Act was to build a rapport around current debt collection practices and where they fell short when it came to protecting consumers from predatory debt collection practices. Debt collection agencies would either work off of commission or receive a bonus whenever an account was collected, which made for very persistent calling agents and numerous desperate citizens.
Provisions covered by the FDCPA protect citizens from harassment by these agencies, and heavily regulate the method and frequency of which you may be contacted to resolve your debts. If a violation of the FDCPA is reported, you have the right to secure your own legal service and pursue additional action through the courts.
Before evaluating if your rights under the FDCPA have been violated, it’s important to determine if your debt is considered personal or otherwise under the confines of the Act. For example, personal debts are not instances in which the FDCPA would apply. For personal debts, there are fewer rules and regulations when it comes to the collection process, which is why these types of loans are not generally encouraged. If you need a loan, it’s always recommended that you work with a qualified FDIC-protected entity to ensure that your financial health is protected.
If your loan is determined to be professional in nature, then you are likely protected by the provisions set forth by the FDCPA. Common inclusions of debts that fall under this Act include mortgages, medical bills, credit card debt, student loans, and car payments.
After the initial contact, your collections entity is required to send you documentation that outlines the nature of your debt. This must occur within five business days from the time that they contacted you. Details that may be included in the report include:
- The amount of debt.
- The name of the creditor.
- The process to dispute or pay what is owed.
If you receive a notice, consider letting the lender know if you will have difficulty paying the debt. Communication can set the foundation for a good relationship between lenders and creditors and can help set the expectation for a repayment plan that suits your unique needs. If you are not able to come to a resolution with your debts, the FDCPA steps in to ensure that your quality of life is protected throughout every step in the debt collection process.
The Act’s provisions generally apply to times of day that you can be contacted by the collections agency. For example, they may only call during certain hours of the day, they may not call into the night or multiple times per hour or per day. These types of regulations keep agencies from harassing private citizens in attempts to bring the account to currency. According to recent amendments to currently standing laws, debtors may use other methods of outreach to reach their creditors, including reaching out through text messages or emails.
If the contact information of a file is not complete, it is lawful for lenders to contact other family members in order to confirm certain pieces of information, such as how to best get into contact with you. Despite them being allowed to contact others to secure this information, there are certain types of information that are protected via this act. While they are able to confirm your contact information, they may only call each individual one time. They may not state that they are collectors, or release any additional details about the nature of the uncollected debt. This type of regulation is vital to preserving your privacy and financial autonomy.
If you believe that you have suffered from a violation of the FDCPA Act, or are dealing with harassment from lenders or collection agencies, the experts at Ascent Law are here to help. Please contact us today and book your free introductory call so that we can assess your case. For more information, you can visit our website or call us via our office line at (801) 432-8682. We’re looking forward to assisting you!