Spring 2007-05 A summary of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act rules
A summary of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act rules
Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse anyone or any third parties they contact. For example, debt collectors may not:
- use threats of violence or harm;
- publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);
- use obscene or profane language; or
- repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.
Debt collectors may not use any false statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
- falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
- falsely imply that the debtor has committed a crime;
- falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
- misrepresent the amount of the debt;
- indicate that papers being sent to the debtor are legal forms when they are not; or
indicate that papers being sent to the debtor are not legal forms when they are.
Debt collectors also may not state that:
- the debtor will be arrested if he or she does not pay the debt;
- they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell the debtor’s property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so; or
- actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against the debtor, which legally may not be taken, or which they do not intend to take.
Debt collectors may not:
- give false credit information about the debtor to anyone, including a credit bureau;
- send the debtor anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or
- use a false name.
Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not:
- collect any amount greater than the debt, unless state law permits such a charge;
- deposit a post-dated check prematurely;
- use deception to make the debtor accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;
- take or threaten to take the debtor’s property unless this can be done legally; or
contact the debtor by postcard.
Source: Federal Trade Commission
© 2007 Goldman Antonetti & Cordóva, LLC