Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Exercise Your Rights When Hounded by New Jersey Debt Collectors
If you get behind in paying your bills and a debt collector is assigned to collect your money, the experience can become your worst nightmare. Suddenly you are facing threats that could seem abusive, deceptive, or just plain unfair.
For this reason, you need to be aware of your rights, which are clearly protected by law.
What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
The FDCPA can be your best friend when you are facing the relentless pursuit of a collection agency. Bill collectors sometimes resort to tactics that are not only harassing, but also illegal.
Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FDC), the FDCPA protects you from unfair practices by:
- Collection agencies.
- Lawyers who regularly collect debts for clients.
- Companies who have bought lists of delinquent debts and work to collect them.
The FDCPA was originally passed by Congress to protect you, the consumer. It was intended to stop abusive practices by debt collectors and to slow the number of personal bankruptcies filed by people like you who are behind in payments. In addition, it provides you with protections and remedies.
Are Your Rights Being Abused?
The FDPCA protects your rights by imposing certain restrictions on debt collection practices. If any of the following have happened to you, seeking legal advice may be a good decision. Debt collectors are restricted from:
- Contacting third parties. Unless they are co-signers on debt, collectors cannot contact third parties, like relatives, neighbors, or your employer.
- Threatening you. By telling you there are going to refer your case to an attorney, ruin your credit rating, repossess goods, garnish wages, or order your arrest, when they do not actually intend to do any of these things. Do note that any of the above can happen, but the law protects you from empty threats.
- Hassling you with unreasonable phone calls. Debt collectors may not call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. In addition, too many repeated phone calls are not permitted.
- Calling you at an inconvenient place. For instance, you cannot be called at work unless your employer allows such calls or you have given permission for the collector to call you there. Also, if the debt collector tells your employer why he or she is calling without being asked, your rights have been violated.
- Practicing unethical tactics. A debt collector may not use insults, racial slurs, or insults when contacting you. Some of the most unethical will also send letters that appear to come from a court (but aren’t actually from a court), or seek fees or interest charges that are prohibited by the terms of your contract or state law. In addition, some collectors will sue you in a court far from where you live or even ask you for post-dated checks to make it possible for them to prosecute you if the checks bounce.
- Making false representations. Some debt collectors will make claims that are not true. For example, the collector may claim to be an attorney, to have started a lawsuit against you, to be someone he or she is not, pretend to be conducting a survey, or using stationery that has copied the format of an official court or government document.
What to Do When it Happens to You
The terms of the FDCPA make it clear that there is no excuse for the abuses and tactics described above. By making them illegal, the government protects you. As New Jersey debt collection practices attorneys, we at Gaylord Popp recommend that you:
- Keep track of all correspondence from debt collectors, including letters you receive and by making notations of times, days, and information discussed in all phone calls.
- Within the first 30 days after being contacted, send a letter to the collection agency if you dispute the debt. They must then stop contacting you.
- Report abuses to the New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office, or if the collector is not in this state, to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Most important, contact a Trenton fair debt attorney to stop the harassment, protect your rights, and possibly to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
At Gaylord Popp, we have the legal expertise and caring concern to help New Jersey clients who have been victims of debt collectors. Call us today toll free at 888-716-8086 to stop the worry and protect your FDCPA rights.