WHAT TYPE OF DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ARE PROHIBITED?
Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person. They may not:
* use threats of violence or harm to the person, his/her property, or
* publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except
to a credit bureau);
* use obscene or profane language;
* repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone;
* telephone people without identifying themselves;
* make anonymous phone calls or charge the debtor for collect
calls or telegram fees;
* advertise your debt.
Debt collectors may not use any false statements when collecting a debt. They may not:
* falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
* falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
* misrepresent the amount of your debt;
* indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when
they’re not or indicating papers are not legal forms when they
* state you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
* state they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages
or that actions such as a law suit will be taken against you, unless
the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to
* 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 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;
* take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done
* contact you by postcard;
* apply a payment to any debt you believe you do not owe.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is “self-enforcing,” meaning there is no agency to enforce the Act.
You can sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date you believe the law was violated. The Act provides for recovery of attorneys fees plus actual and punitive damages and court costs in the event that the consumer prevails up to $1,000. Class actions are also possible under the Act with damages of the lesser of $500,000 or 1 percent of net worth.