Prohibited Debt Collection Practices

Greg Artim
December 18, 2008 — 1,513 views  
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As we all know, the country is in the midst of an economic crisis. Delinquencies on credit card accounts are at an all time high. Many of these delinquent accounts are being sold to unsavory debt collection agencies who have purchased the debt for pennies on the dollar, who then attempt to collect the monies from you. There is a federal law that governs debt collection in this country, and it is called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The Act sets forth some criteria, guidelines and policies that must be followed by debt collectors. The following are some examples of prohibited debt collection practices as set forth in the FDCPA:

Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass or abuse any person in the attempted collection of a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:

- call you at unreasonable times. This means that all calls should take place between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless you give them authority to call at other times. - call you an unreasonable number of times. I have had clients tell me that they received upwards of 40 phone calls in one week from a debt collector. Clearly, that is meant as harassment. - falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives. In some states, like in Pennsylvania where I practice law, it is actually a crime to misrepresent oneself as an attorney. - falsely imply that you have committed a crime. In most instances, the non-payment of a credit card account is not a crime.

In addition, Debt Collectors also may not state that: - you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt; I am not aware of any law in the land that allows for an arrest where the individual has failed to pay a credit card invoice. - they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or credit intends to do so, and it is legal to do so (garnishment of wages is currently prohibited in four states, my home state of Pennsylvania included, for the collection of most debts):

Debt Collectors may not: - give false credit information about you to anyone; - send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; - use a false name. Debt Collectors also are prohibited from engaging in Unfair practices. Debt Collectors may not engage in unfair practices in attempting to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not: - collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law;- deposit a post-dated check prematurely; - make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams; - take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally; - contact you by postcard.

About the Author

Greg Artim is a Consumer Attorney based in Pittsburgh, PA. He handles Credit Card and Collection Agency Defense matters in all of Pennsylvania. For more answers to your Fair Debt Collections Practices Act questions, please visit his website at Fair Debt Collection Practices Act .

Greg Artim