As a consumer, you have rights related to the third-party collection of your debts. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a significant federal law that regulates debt collection practices. Under the FDCPA, debt collection companies are prohibited from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect a debt. The FDCPA contains several rules for debt collectors. These rules give you certain rights as a consumer to help ensure that you are free of offensive conduct.
Remember, this law does not apply to the collection of a debt by the original creditor. It typically applies to third-party debt collectors who collect debts in the regular course of their business. These debt collectors include collection agencies, debt buyers, and lawyers. They make be acting as an agent or they may have purchased the debt.
The FDCPA applies to the collection of mortgage debt, credit card debt, and medical debt. It also applies to debts incurred primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
*You have the right to be informed
Any debt collector who contacts you alleging that you owe money for a debt is required to give you certain underlying information about the debt. If the debt collector does not provide this information in its initial contact, It is required to send you a written notice including this information within five days of the first letter or contact. This information includes:
- The creditor’s name
- The amount of the debt
- Your right to dispute the debt
- Your right to request the name and address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor
*You may only be contacted through your attorney
If you are represented by an attorney, you can also request that a debt collector only contact you through your attorney.
*You can request verification of the debt
When a debt collector first contacts you, it must inform you that you have the right to dispute the validity of the debt. Once you receive this notification, you have 30 days to send a letter requesting that the creditor verify or validate the debt. A debt validation letter requests proof that the debt is your legal obligation. Once a creditor receives a debt validation letter, it must stop all collection activity until it has sent you valid proof that you owe the debt. An attorney can help you prepare a debt validation letter.
*You can only be called at certain times
The law says debt collectors can only call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. But, if there’s another timeframe that’s not convenient for you, for example before 10 a.m. because you work the late shift, let the debt collector know and they’re prohibited from calling you at that time.
*A debt collector cannot call you at work
Debt collectors cannot call you at work if you have informed them that you may not receive such calls. If a debt collector calls you while you are at your place of employment, ask that it stops calling. You can also send a letter in writing to further document that you made such a request.
*You can request not to receive phone calls from a debt collector
You can stop debt collector calls by sending a written letter requesting the contact to stop. Once a debt collector receives this written request, it may contact you one final time in writing to inform you of its remaining or available courses of action.
*You have a choice of what debts you pay
If a debt collector is trying to collect more than one debt, you have the right to choose which debt any payments you make apply. A debt collector s also prohibited from applying a payment to a debt that you have disputed.
*You have the right to sue any creditor that violates your rights
If a debt collector violates an actionable provision of the FDCPA, you may have a cause of action to sue in state or federal court. The statute of limitations on a suit under the FDCPA for these violations is typically one year. You can recover your actual damages, including lost wages. Punitive damages up to $1,000 and your attorney fees are also compensable in a suit under the FDCPA.
Telling a debt collector to stop contacting you does not prevent the debt collector from pursuing other legal ways to collect the debt
The Morrison Law Group strives for complete client satisfaction with the services that we provide throughout a bankruptcy case, as well as the ongoing services that we provide post-bankruptcy. Not all Utah Bankruptcy attorneys can make this statement, but the Morrison Law Group is not like other Utah bankruptcy law firms. Call 801.456.9933 today to schedule a FREE consultation. We have locations in Ogden, Logan, Sandy, Orem, and St. George to serve the residents of the counties of Weber, Cache, Salt Lake, Utah, Morgan, Davis, Washington, and surrounding areas.