If you’re behind on paying your bills, or a company mistakenly believes that you are, a debt collector may be contacting you to retrieve the money owed. However, just because you owe money does not mean that you are without rights. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you are protected from illegal debt collection practices that may be abusive, unfair or deceptive.
What You Can Do & How We Can Help
The Schmidt Firm, LLP is currently accepting Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Telephone Consumer Protection Act cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been harassed by a debt collector, you should contact our Fair Debt Collection Act Lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please click here to contact our Fair Debt Collection Act Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
What is Debt Collection & Who are Debt Collectors?
A debt collector is someone who regularly collects debts owed to others. This can include first-party agencies, third-party agencies, debt buyers, and attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.
Debt collectors may seek to retrieve money owed on personal credit card accounts, cars, medical bills or mortgages. Debt collectors may pursue personal, family or even household debts.
What is the Difference Between a First-Party and Third-Party Agency?
First-party agencies are usually departments within the original company that the debt is owed to. Because first-party agencies are a part of the original company, they are often more invested in maintaining a good relationship with the customer. These agencies usually try to collect a debt for several months before it is passed along to a third-party agency.
A third-party agency is an outside company that is contracted to collect a debt for another company. These agencies usually partner with other companies to collect debts, in exchange for a percentage if the debt is successfully collected. The collection agency only makes money if money is collected from the debtor, therefore they are usually much more cutthroat than first-party agencies.
Finally, “debt buyers” are agencies that buy a debt from another company, often at a percentage of the value of the debt, but then seek the debtor for the full balance of the debt.
Who is the Debtor?
The person who owes the bill or debt is the debtor.
It’s important to remember that debtors are not criminals and there are many reasons why debtors may not be able to pay a debt. They may have recently lost a job or a major source of income; they could suffer from health problems; or unforeseen events may contribute to their inability to repay the debt.
Even if you are a debtor and are currently unable to pay, this does not mean that debt collectors can harass you to collect money. You have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in 1978 in order to prevent debt collectors from engaging in harassing, threatening, misleading or abusive activity against debtors.
Under the FDCPA, a debt collector is defined as any company that routinely collects debts owed to others — this includes collection agencies, collection attorneys, employees, and debt buyers. Because they collect under the name of the original debt-issuing company, first-party agencies may not be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
However, if you were harassed, abused or threatened by a debt collector, you may want to contact an attorney with The Schmidt Firm, LLP to discuss the potential of a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawsuit.
What Debt Collectors Cannot Do
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are now allowed to participate in any of the following:
- Engaging in harassing, oppressive or abusive conduct
- Making repeated phone calls or phone calls at an unreasonable time
- Calling you at times that are inconvenient for you, especially before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
- Contacting you if the collector knows you are represented by an attorney
- Contacting you at work when the collector has been told or knows you are not allowed to take calls of that nature while working
- Contacting any relatives, neighbors, employers or any third party (other than your spouse) about information regarding the debt
- Using any threatening language
- Using obscene or profane language, racial slurs or insults
- Reporting false information on your credit report, or threatening to do so
- Threatening violence
- Continuing to pursue a debt that has been properly disputed, without first providing verification to you
- Sending false letters or documents that appear to be from a government agency or court
- Seeking collection fees, interest charges or taxes that are in excess of or not permitted by contract or state law
- Falsely representing himself/herself in order to collect a debt
- Suing in a court that is located too far away from your residence
- Using false claims to collect information
- Contacting you even if you have notified in writing to cease communication
- Falsely threatening you with arrest or imprisonment, implying that you committed a crime by not paying the debt
- Falsely representing the character, amount or legal status of your debt
- Threatening to take action that is not legal or never intended to be taken
- Requesting post-dated checks with the intention of prosecuting if they bounce
- Communicating with you by postcard
What Are My Rights?
If you believe you have been abused by a debt collector, you may be entitled to:
- Have the outstanding debt reduced or eliminated
- Be paid monetary damages up to $1,000
- Clear your credit reports of negative information
- Have the debt collector pay your attorney’s fees
Do I Have a Fair Debt Collection Act Lawsuit
The Schmidt Firm, LLP is currently accepting Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Telephone Consumer Protection Act cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been harassed by a debt collector, you should contact our Fair Debt Collection Act Lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Fair Debt Collection Act Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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