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Debt Collectors Must Send a Consumer Notice

Adam J Krohn / Posted: 2009-02-06 12:00 am
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and private attorneys, prohibits abusive conduct by debt collectors. The FDCPA provides guidelines for debt collectors collecting legitimate debts and provides protections and remedies for debtors.

The FDCPA covers all personal debts, family debts, household and medical debts, and credit card bills. The FDCPA is a federal law, and many different states also provide additional protections for debtors under their own state laws. These state laws are often similar to the federal laws in structure but may cover a broader range of debts, and prohibit a broader range of abuse debt collection practices.

In-house debt collectors (employees of the original creditor) are normally not governed by the FDCPA, although they are governed by many state laws. The FDCPA, however governs third-party debt collectors.

Under the FDCPA, a debt collector must inform the consumer of the following in writing:
  • The amount of money owed
  • The name of the original creditor
  • The fact that unless the consumer disputes the validity of the debt or a part of the debt, the debt will be assumed valid by the debt collector
  • The fact that if the consumer disputes the validity of the debt in full or in part within the thirty day period, the debt collector will send the consumer a debt verification
  • If the creditor mentioned by the debt collector is different from the original creditor, the details of the original creditor
  • A warning stating that the communication is from a debt collector and that the information he collects may be used to collect a debt

Failing to send this information is tantamount to violating the FDCPA. In 2009, 22,708 of the debt-collection complaints received by the FTC, or just over 25 percent, were about debt collectors not providing the required notices. This was 10 percent more than the percentage of such complaints in 2008, demonstrating that the problem of failure to provide the required notices is getting worse.

Verifying debts at the consumer’s written request is mandatory under the FDCPA. If debt collectors do not verify the disputed debts upon request, they must cease all collection efforts. In 2009, just over 11 percent of all FDCPA complaints received by the FTC were about collectors failing to verify disputed debts.

It is imperative for debt collectors to send the proper consumer notices, as the absence of such notices is a violation of the FDCPA. If you have been the victim of such a violation, contact an FDCPA attorney to learn about your rights and how to enforce them.
Tags : Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fdcpa

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