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Consumer Protection Topics - Debt Collection

Debt Collection Basics

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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect debts. The FDCPA covers debt for personal, family or household purposes. Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is someone who regularly collects debts owed to others, such as a collection agency.  A bank collecting its own debt in its own name is not considered a debt collector and may attempt to collect debts owed in a reasonable manner, including telephone calls to the borrower.  However, banks and other lenders that are not acting as “debt collectors” under FDCPA are generally expected to avoid abusive collection practices and comply with the spirit of the FDCPA.

Consumer Protections Available

Consumers are protected from debt collectors engaging in certain practices, like using abusive language or threatening violence. A short list of prohibited debt collection practices include:

However, the law allows for certain debt collection practices. For example, a debt collector can contact friends, neighbors, and co-workers, but only to find out a consumer’s home address, phone number, and work address. Also, debt collectors can contact the consumer’s attorney, the creditor, the creditor’s attorney, the debt collector’s attorney, and credit reporting agencies (in some cases). Debt collectors may also contact the consumer’s spouse, parent (if the consumer is a minor), guardian, executor, or administrator.

In addition to the FDCPA’s prohibition of certain debt collection practices, there are several other ways you can protect yourself:

In addition to federal regulators, many individual states have enacted their own versions of the FDCPA, which may provide additional protections (see below).

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