Debt collectors frequently violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) when attempting to collect consumer debts. Here are some of the most of their most common FDCPA violations.
Calling your Cell Phone without Permission
In certain circumstances it is illegal for a debt collector to call your cell phone without your permission. Nonetheless, debt collectors often call consumer cell phones to collect debt. The reason for this common FDCPA violation is twofold. First, calling a consumer on their cell phone is an effective method of contact. Many consumers are hard to reach by any other method and debt collectors normally don’t collect if they cannot communicate with consumers. Second, debt collectors may have, or think they have, permission to call your cell phone.
To stop collection calls to your cell phone answer every collection call and instruct the caller that they are calling a cell phone and do not have your permission to do so. Even if you initially provided the original creditor with your cell phone number, once you tell the collection agency it doesn’t have permission to call they are in violation of the FDCPA and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) if they call again. You should also send a follow-up letter to advise the collection agency in writing that it is calling your cell phone and you do not give any further consent to do so.
Discussing Debt with your Family, Friends, or Employer
Another common FDCPA violation occurs when a debt collector discusses the debt with your family, friends, employer, or any other third party. Under the FDCPA debt collectors may speak only with you or your spouse about the debt. They are allowed to contact one third party to verify or update your contact information but they are strictly prohibited from discussing, or even disclosing the existence of, the debt to that third party. Debt collectors use these illegal third party contacts to effectively embarrass and pressure consumers into paying debt even though doing so is a common FDCPA violation and an invasion of your privacy.
Threatening Arrest or Criminal Charges
Another common but unlawful tactic is for debt collectors to threaten to have consumers arrested or criminally charged for failing to pay a debt. Collection agencies use these threats to bully consumers into paying even when they do not legitimately owe the debt. The fear of arrest, incarceration, or having a criminal record is an illegal, yet powerful collection tool. This common FDCPA violation generates substantial emotional harm to completely innocent consumers in many cases.
Using Profanity, Lies, or False Threats to Collect Debt
Some debt collectors resort to the common FDCPA violation of using lies, false threats, or even profanity to collect debt. Such aggression effectively manipulates consumers into paying the debt in many cases. Others go so far as to file bankruptcy to avoid the extreme stress caused by such antagonism. It is certainly overwhelming to many consumers to have a debt they cannot pay but that stress is needlessly and exponentially compounded when a debt collector is yelling, threatening, swearing, and lying to you.
Calling Consumers at Inconvenient Times
Under the FDCPA debt collectors may not call consumers at times that it knows to be inconvenient. Generally, this includes before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. but also includes any other time the collection agency knows is not convenient. For example, if the debt collector knows when the consumer is driving home from work and purposely calls during that time to catch the consumer in traffic, the debt collector could be found to have violated the FDCPA. Similarly, if a debt collector calls a consumer after the consumer requests all calls to stop, the collection agency would be liable under the FDCPA. To avoid this common FDCPA violation tell the collector when it is inconvenient to call you and send a follow-up letter to assure the matter is memorialized in writing.
Debt collectors commonly violate the FDCPA by abusing, threatening, embarrassing, and coercing consumers into paying debt. Don’t be a victim of these tactics. Take detailed notes of all collection calls including who called you, what they said or did, and what you told them. Send a follow-up letter to further memorialize the call and what took place and save a copy for your records. Once you have gathered evidence of these common FDCPA violations contact an experienced consumer protection attorney as quickly as possible. An experienced lawyer can help stop the calls and any abuse that may be occurring and in many cases can make debt collectors, collection agencies, and collection attorneys pay you damages for that abuse. You do not have to accept any abuse from a debt collector. The law requires collection agencies to treat you with fairness, truth, dignity, and respect.