If you find yourself in a situation where you are behind in paying loans or credit cards and being contacted by debt collectors, you have rights that need to be protected and people attempting to collect your past due debt are obligated to follow certain rules. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was put in place to protect consumers, like you.
I have established a practice area designed to help people that are being harassed by bill collectors and protect your rights. Below is a list of common violations made by debt collectors.
Top 10 Collector Violations
2. Collecting money not owed
4. Calls at work
5. Contacting third-parties
6. Written Notice
7. Proof of debts
8. Refusing to cease contact
9. No “Mini-Miranda”
10. Contact after you have hired an attorney
If you think you have experienced a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), contact us today.
How do I know if my rights have been violated?
The Top 10 collector violations are discussed in further detail below. Harassing conduct by debt collectors attempting to collect consumer debts is a violation of the law. The following examples are a small sample of the many schemes debt collectors use to harass consumers. Typically debt collectors commit at least one violation of the law during the first phone call, and then often commit many violations during the course of the collection process.
1. Harassment – There is no legal definition of “harassing conduct” by a debt collector, but I know it when I see it! Debt collectors abuse consumers in many ways. Common examples of harassing conduct include:
- Numerous daily phone calls to alleged debtors or their family and friends
- Calling on back to back days
- Repeated calls with no messages, hang-ups, using social media networks such as Facebook and the use of “robo-dialers”
- Lies, misleading comments, speaking in a belittling manner, embarrassing, as well as argumentative and rude conduct are also examples of harassing conduct
2. Collecting debts not owed– No debt collector, including banks, mortgage companies, collection agencies or other financial institutions can attempt to collect one penny more than what is actually owed. This includes any “fees” such as late fees when alleged debtor is not late, penalties, higher interest rates, attorney fees, costs or any miscellaneous fees. Obviously, if an alleged debtor doesn’t owe the money it is a violation of the law for a collector to try and force the alleged debtor to pay the money. A favorite scheme of debt collectors is to try to “guilt trip” family members into paying family debts they don’t owe.
3. Threats – Creating a “false sense of urgency” or suggesting something negative will happen, such as arrest, criminal prosecution, jail, repossession of all the alleged debtors property (cars, homes, furniture), garnishing wages, threatening to file lawsuits or ruining credit. Unless a collector has the legal ability and intention to do what they say, it is illegal for them to mention it.
4. Calls at work – Phone calls to the workplace can and do cause many serious problems, which is why debt collectors make the calls. Any calls to the workplace can be a violation, especially after a collector is told not to call, such as speaking to or leaving messages with a receptionist, calling the cell phone while alleged debtor is at work, or calling alleged debtors direct line.
5. Contacting Third Parties – Collectors may not speak to any party about a debt without the express permission of the alleged debtor, including the spouse or any other family member, neighbors, friends, co-workers, or references. Any outside contact is a violation of the law.
6. Written Notice – Debt collectors must send a written notice stating the amount of the debt, the creditor to whom the debt is owed, and a statement that the debtor has 30 days to dispute the debt in writing. Upon receiving written notice that a consumer disputes a debt, the collector must obtain written verification and validation of the amount of the debt within 30 days, including the information of the creditor to whom the debt is owed. The collector must mail said verification to the consumer.
7. Proof of debts – Debt collectors are required by federal law to send “verification and validation” of a debt when the alleged debtor disputes the debt in writing within 30 days of a debt collector’s first contact. The debt collector must send supporting documentation proving a debt is owed. Until debt collectors send proof of debt, they may not communicate or attempt to collect the alleged debt. It is important the alleged debtor request validation and verification within 30 days of a debt collector’s first contact and that the dispute letter be certified with a return receipt requested to establish a paper trail.
8. Cease and Desist – Any and all communications, including telephone calls and letters, must immediately stop once a debt collector receives a “cease and desist” letter. There is no specific required language, only a directive that all communications must stop. All cease and desist letters should be sent with return receipt requested.
9. No “Mini-Miranda”– In the initial communication, the debt collectors must state, “This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information will be used for that purpose.” In every conversation, message, or letter, debt collectors must state that they are debt collectors. Debt collectors must also identify their company name during the communications, whether verbal or written. If a debt collector fails to provide this required information, it is a violation of federal law.
10. Contact after attorney representation– Once a collector is told an individual is represented by an attorney, all conversations; messages, letters, and any other communication must immediately stop.
Keller Law LLP is well versed in the litigation of cases involving Debt Collection Harassment and I have the knowledge, experience, and passion to hold Collection Harassment offenders accountable for the harm they may cause you and your family.
If an abusive creditor is harassing you, contact me today for a free case review. I can assess your case in accordance with debt collection laws and determine whether we can help stop the harassing collector calls.