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How Consumers can be Contacted: Protections and Purpose of The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Explained

Adam J Krohn / Posted: 2014-01-07 2:27 pm

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was designed with the intention of eliminating abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. In addition it protects debt collectors who are reputable from unfair competition while also encouraging consistent action by the state to protect consumers from debt collection abuses.

However, only the collection of certain debt is covered under the FDCPA. The types of debt include debt a consumer incurred primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. It is not applicable to attempts to collect corporate debt or debts incurred for business or agricultural purposes.

Creditors are able to attempt to collect on outstanding debts in several ways. They may try to collect by directly communicating with the consumer, file a lawsuit, seek to take possession of or sell property that was used to secure the debt, or they may hire a debt collection service. In general, the FDCPA only applies to third party debt collectors and is not intended to cover conduct of original creditors. Under 15 USC Section 1692a(6) a debt collector is defined as any person who “regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another.” This definition includes creditors who, while collecting his own debts, use a “name other than his own which would indicate that a third person is collecting or attempting to collect such debts”

Restrictions on Debt Collectors When Contacting Consumers

There are limits for debt collectors when it comes to contacting consumers. The FDCPA restricts when, where, and with whom debt collectors can contact consumers. Under 15 USC Section 1692d debt collectors cannot engage in conduct that harasses, oppresses, or abuses “any person in connection with the collection of a debt.” The following conduct is prohibited under this section:

  • The threat or use of violence or other criminal means intended to harm “the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.”
  • Using obscene or profane language that abuses the consumer
  • Publishing a “list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts,” unless the report is made to a consumer reporting agency or made to a person who meets the requirements of 15 USC Sections 1681a(f) or 1681b(3)
  • Coercing payment of debt by advertising the sale of the debt
  • Repeatedly or continuously “causing the telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation” while intending “to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.”
  • Placing telephone calls without disclosing the identity of the caller unless it is provided for under 15 USC Section 1692b

Debt collectors are also prohibited from communicating with consumers at unusual time prior to 8 am and after 9 pm or at times a debt collector knows or should know are inconvenient. They also may not call a consumer at any place that is inconvenient unless permission is given by the consumer. A debt collector may not contact a consumer at his or her place of employment if the there is reason to believe that the employer would prohibit the communications. Additionally, if the debt collection has knowledge that the consumer has retained an attorney to handle the debt the attorney must be contacted unless the attorney does not respond or agrees to allow communication directly with the consumer.

Consumers who are more aware of the limitations placed on debt collectors under the FDCPA may be able to obtain relief from harassing communications. For a further breakdown on each applicable section of the FDCPA and how you can use it to protect you and your family, please visit our helpful overview post here.

Our experienced attorneys here at Krohn and Moss Consumer Law Center have also provided many helpful resources regarding the FDCPA and how debt collectors should act. We have been successfully representing those abused and taken advantage of by debt collectors for years, and have a long list of successful stories to share with you. We offer a FREE CASE REVIEW for you to assess whether we can assist you with your matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us toll free at 1-800-875-3666 or visit our website at

Tags : Debt Collection, Debt Collectors, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fdcpa, Recent Articles

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