Basic Introduction to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Posted in: Before Filing

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is a law that prohibits debt collectors from using tactics considered to be unfair, deceptive, or abusive.

Here is a list of what a debt collector generally can and can’t do:

  • A debt collector can’t use obscene or profane language.
  • A debt collector can’t contact you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
  • A debt collector can’t contact you at work if you tell them (orally or in writing) that you are not allowed to get calls at work.
  • A debt collector can’t contact you directly if you have hired an attorney to represent you regarding the debt.
  • A debt collector can’t contact a third party to discuss your debt, but they can contact a third party to find out your address, your home phone number, or where you work.
  • Debt collectors must send you written validation of (a) the amount you owe; (b) to whom it is owed; and (c) how you may proceed if you don’t agree with the debt.  This written validation must be sent within five days of contacting you by telephone.
  • A debt collector can’t threaten you with violence or harm.
  • A debt collector can’t tell you that you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt.
  • A debt collector can’t threaten to take or sell your property, unless it can legally be done and they actually intend to do so.
Note that some of the items on the list require you to take some action to invoke the protection.  If you have been contacted by a debt collector and believe they have violated the FDCPA, please contact us.  You may have a right to sue the collector in state or federal court, and you may be reimbursed for attorney’s fees and court costs.