In 1977 Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to help protect consumers from the abusive actions of third party debt collectors. The law provides remedies for victims of unfair debt collection practices, including actual damages as well as compensation for the cost of filing a claim and attorney’s fees. Being hounded by debt collectors can take a substantial emotional and financial toll on victims, so if you or a loved one have questions or concerns about the legality of a debt collection agency’s actions, it is important to contact an experienced civil litigation attorney who can help you file a claim.

Prohibited Communications

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using certain tactics to collect unpaid debts, including communicating with the consumer without his or her consent or without gaining express permission from the appropriate court. Under these rules, debt collectors cannot contact a consumer in connection with debt collection:

  • At any unusual time or place, specifically after 8:00 p.m. or before 9:00 a.m.;
  • If the consumer is represented by an attorney; or
  • At the consumer’s workplace if his or her employer prohibits receiving this type of communication.

Additionally, debt collectors are not permitted to communicated with anyone other than the consumer, his or her attorney, or a reporting agency about matters related to the collection of a debt.

Ceasing Communication

Once a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that he or she will not pay a debt or that further communication on the matter should cease, the debt collector can only contact the consumer about the debt in order to:

  • Advise the consumer that efforts at communication will be terminated;
  • Notify the consumer that it has the option of invoking specific remedies; or
  • Communicate to the consumer that it intends to invoke a certain remedy.

Protection from Harassment

The law also prohibits debt collectors from harassing, oppressing, or abusing a consumer in connection with collection of a debt in other ways, including by:

  • Using or threatening to use violence to harm the consumer’s person, reputation, or property;
  • Using obscene language;
  • Publishing a list of consumers who owe debts to anyone except a consumer reporting agency;
  • Advertising the debt as for sale in an effort to coerce payment;
  • Calling a consumer via telephone repeatedly; and
  • Calling the consumer without disclosing the debt collector’s identity.

Protected Consumers

The FDCPA protects more than just the individual who actually owes the debt, including the consumer’s:

  • Spouse;
  • Parent, if he or she is a minor;
  • Guardian;
  • Executor; or
  • Administrator.

Under the FDCPA, victims of unfair third party debt collection practices can obtain compensation for actual damages as well as the cost of attorney’s fees. If you are a resident of New Jersey or Pennsylvania and you have been the victim of a debt collector’s abusive practices, please contact The Kim Law Firm, LLC by calling 855-996-6342 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney who can explain your legal options.