Consumers may need to hire a debt collection lawyer if they feel that a collections agency has violated the FDCPA. Federal laws exist to protect consumers from predatory collections agencies. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits debt collectors from contacting consumers using unfair, abusive, or deceptive practices. However, many bill collectors and credit agencies violate these regulations. Debt collection attorneys seek to help consumers fight unfair collections practices.
There are several actions bill collectors may take that are in violation of regulations enforced by the FDCPA. First, debt collectors are prohibited from contacting consumers prior to 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless otherwise agreed upon by the consumer. Additionally, collectors are prohibited from contacting individuals at their place of work, unless individuals specify that they are allowed to receive such calls.
The FDCPA specifies with whom a debt collector may discuss an individual’s debt. Collectors cannot discuss any information regarding an individual’s debts with persons other than the debtor and his or her spouse. If an attorney is retained on the behalf of the consumer, collections agents can discuss debts with the lawyer as well.
Unfair practices by debt collectors include depositing post-dated checks early, charging additional fees or interest on debts owed (unless stated within an existing contract), or publicly revealing debts. Harassment by collectors includes repeated calls, threats, or profane language. Collectors are also prohibited from misrepresenting themselves as attorneys or other officials, threatening false legal actions, or misrepresenting the amount of debt owed.
When collectors make initial contact with consumers, they are required to provide validation information regarding the debt in question, such as:
Collectors are required to provide the above information during the initial call, or through a debt validation letter within 5 days of initial contact. Consumers should thoroughly review and retain validation letters. Validation letters provide consumers with written proof of agreed upon debts and help to protect consumers if collectors become aggressive.
If a consumer receives notice of a debt that he or she does not recognize or owe, he or she should file a dispute. A debt collection lawyer can assist consumers with disputing inaccurate debts, fighting predatory collectors, and recovering damages when necessary.