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An overview of unfair debt collection practices

When people in Washington, D.C., fall behind on their bills, they are commonly contacted by debt collectors. Although it is the job of these collectors to obtain payments from people, they cannot use any means to do so. There are certain practices that are considered unfair and which are prohibited under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is not applicable to all debts. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau points out that the act covers the collection of credit card debts, medical debts, mortgages and other personal debts. The FDCPA does not cover debts that are incurred for business purposes or collection efforts by original creditors.

Under the FDCPA, there are limitations on when and how debt collectors are able to contact people. Debt collectors are able to contact people by letter, email phone or text message. However, they are not able to contact people at inconvenient times or places. Additionally, if a person notifies a debt collector that he or she is not allowed to receive phone calls while at work, then the collector is not permitted to contact him or her there.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, debt collectors are prohibited from abusing, harassing or oppressing those from whom they are attempting to obtain payments. This includes making threats of harm or violence, using profane or obscene language, or making repeated phone calls for the purpose of annoying someone. Furthermore, debt collectors cannot publish a list of the names of those people who will not pay their debts.

When attempting to collect debts, the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in unfair practices. For example, they cannot threaten to take a person’s property if they are not legally able to do so. In addition, they are not permitted to collect any fees, interest or other charges on top of what people owe unless the contract terms of the debt or state law allow them to do so.

Debt collectors must disclose that they are debt collectors when they make contact with people. Furthermore, they are not allowed to lie or make false statements when attempting to collect a debt. This includes, misrepresenting the amount a person owes, claiming they are government representatives or attorneys, or alleging that a person has committed a crime.

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