What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

Jun 15, 2011 No Comments by

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is an act that was passed to keep consumers from being abused by creditors.  Already feeling abused and harassed by the constant calls or the condescending tones or the threatening letters?  There is something you may be able to do about it.

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Whenever my mother was frustrated by someone or some corporation she would firmly state, “I’ll show them, I am going to write them a letter.”  It doesn’t sound empowering, yet in this case, she was definitely onto something.  Under this act, you are allowed to write a letter to each creditor requesting they stop contacting you.  This is also commonly revered to as a cease and desist letter. Make sure you make copies of this letter and send it certified mail to all your creditors.  One caveat: this only prevents them from contacting you on a regular basis; the company is still within their own rights to take legal action they deem necessary.  Also, this letter does not magically erase this debt- but a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be able to wipe out your debt!  Once the creditor has received this letter the only contact they may engage in is to let you know they have received your request and will honor it, or to let you know they have taken legal action.

In addition, this Act also limits the times and the places a creditor may solicit payment from you.  For instance, they are only limited to the hours of 8am to 9pm to call- not that your phone gets much rest, but at least you can sleep with your phone on and know only emergencies are calling you during the night!

Now the important question: are creditors allowed to contact me at work? Unfortunately, they may call once if they somehow obtain your work number, but if they are verbally told or in writing told they are prohibited, it is in violation of this act if they continue to do so.  This also goes for third parties, such as family members.

I have retained Duncan Law, PLLC for our bankruptcy, will that stop creditor calls? Once you have retained an attorney, you may give the creditor your attorney’s information.  At that point, they will typically stop contacting you because they know they aren’t going to be able to collect the debt – they would rather move on to the next person they think they may actually be able to get money from.  However, they are not required to stop all forms of communication to collect a debt until you have actually filed the bankruptcy.

If you feel as though you are being treated unfairly by a creditor who is trying to collect a debt from you, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Guide for Consumers to learn how to report improper collection attempts.

Garnishment- yikes! Can creditors take my paycheck or tax refund or bank account? The only way a creditor may access your funds and assets is by entering a legal action with the court, such as a suing you.  If the creditor wins, then the court will enter a garnishment order on the creditor’s behalf.  Federal Benefits: most of these are protected and may not be garnished under any circumstance.  However, if you owe student loans, taxes, child support or alimony, be prepared to have you monthly income docked automatically if you are behind on these payments.

If you are being sued, always answer the complaint.  You may represent yourself, which is also known as pro se representation. If you choose to work with us we can help show you how to answer the complaint served against you.

When all seems lost and you feel as though no one is on your side, take a second and read over your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Most people in your position are at this point due to unforeseen circumstances and have already exhausted every option.  Bankruptcy is a way to get a fresh financial start, but until then, use this Act to protect your privacy, your phone, and your sanity.

Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy Video Vault, Chapter 7, Creditors, Duncan Law Blog, Video
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About the author

At Duncan Law, LLP our goal is pretty simple. We try to make people's lives better. And in doing so we try to treat people the way we would want to be treated. It's just that simple.

We practice primarily in the areas of bankruptcy and workers' compensation. We have offices in Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston-Salem, NC.

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