Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted to help protect consumers against predatory collection practices. While this is a very helpful law, it applies only to 3rd parties in the business of debt collection, not the original creditor. There are often state laws that expand the act to the originating creditor.
In addition to filing a complaint with the state of Michigan, you can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Also, the FTC has an excellent site on Consumer Credit with information regarding the FDCPA as well as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as other federal laws that protect and affect consumers. Additionally, the FTC has a website devoted to FDCPA.
Summary of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
To see a copy of the FDCPA, please click here as a point of reference. This act was enacted in an attempt to stop abusive debt collecton practices as well as to encourage debt collectors to utilize Fair Debt Collection Practices. As defined by the FDCPA, a third party debt collector includes those collection agencies that are assigned debts for the purpose of collecting debt. As a result, these agencies are subject to the FDCPA unlike original creditors, who have extended credit to the debtor. Also, once you retain an attorney in regards to any collection proceeding, the debt collector is required to contact your attorney, and cannot directly contact you without first obtaining permission from your attorney.
A debt collector may not harrass you in its attempts to collect a debt. It may only contact you during reasonable hours during the day, unless you give permission to be contacted at a different time. Additionally, a debt collector cannot contact your employer or other third party about the debt. A debt collector can only contact third parties to verify your location, but cannot mention anything about collecting debt at this time. Also, if you contact them in writing, refusing to pay for the debt and requesting that they no longer contact you, they are only able to contact you to inform you that: the collector's attempts to collect debt are being terminated, that the debt collector or creditor may invoke special remedies that the collector or creditor may normally pursue, or that the collector intends to invoke a specific remedy against you. Any other type of communication would be in violation of the FDCPA. No one can threaten you when trying to collect a debt against you. It is illegal for a debt collector to contact you about a debt via post card.
Once a debt collector first communicates with you about an attempt to collect debt against you, the debt collector has the obligation to provide you, within five days of the first communication regarding the debt, with information that validates the debt. This validation of the debt includes: the name of the creditor, the amount of the debt, a statement giving you, the consumer, 30 days to dispute this debt. Once you dispute the debt, the debt collector must send you a verification of the debt or send you a copy of a judgment entered against you for the debt. If you request the information in writing, the debt collector must also inform you of the original creditor, if the present creditor is not the same. Even if you do not dispute the debt, the debt collector cannot use this as evidence of an admission to owing the debt. However, it is to your advantage to dispute a debt that you do not believe you owe, so that you can get any relevant information regarding the alleged debt. If you know you owe some of the debt, but not all, you can dispute the portion you do not think you owe.
If a debt collector contacts you about a debt you do not believe you owe, you should request verification of the debt from that debt collector within 30 days from their first attempt to collect debt. Make sure to note whether the debt collector has informed you that they are attempting to collect a debt. Additionally, note any instances where the debt collector harrasses you about collection of a debt. If after requesting verification, the creditor fails to supply you with the information you requested, file complaints with the Department of Professonal Regulation of your state, as well as with the FTC. In order to protect yourself from abusive collection practices if a debt collector continues to try to collect against you after you dispute the debt, it is best to contact an attorney to discuss your options on what to do about the debt collector.