FDCPA Attorney Ryan Pesicka Concord Law Seattle

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) Attorney Explains Your Rights

You may have heard of the FDCPA, but what does this alphabet soup mean for you? FDCPA stands for Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It is a federal law that governs the behavior and practices of debt collectors and debt collections agencies. The FDCPA controls what these people and companies can and cannot do when trying to collect a debt from you. Despite the protections and punishments contained in the FDCPA, many collectors don’t comply. It’s important for you to understand what actions are illegal and what you can do if you think the FDCPA has been violated.

When does the FDCPA apply?

The FDCPA generally applies when a third party is attempting to collect a debt from you. This means the original creditor is not subject to the FDCPA in most cases. So if you borrowed money from a bank, that bank is not subject to the FDCPA (unless it uses a different name implying that it is a third party). But if the bank uses a collection agency, collection attorneys, or sells the debt to another entity, those third parties are typically subject to the rules of the FDCPA. There is a long list of exceptions to the FDCPA’s coverage. For example, if the debt was not in default when it was sold to the collector or if the debt is incidental to a fiduciary obligation, the FDCPA may not apply. It’s important that you consult with an attorney to determine if your situation falls under the protections of the FDCPA.

What is a violation under the FDCPA?

The goal of the FDCPA is to protect consumers from unfair practices during the debt collection process. The FDCPA contains many rules about what debt collectors can and cannot do. Some of the most important are:

  • ‘Extra Charges.’ Fair and reasonable methods must be used when collecting debt. Collectors cannot add fees or charges not contained in the original agreement or as allowed by law. This one is a favorite among the more unscrupulous third party debt collectors.
  • Deceit. Debt collectors must also be truthful when talking to you. They cannot claim to be law enforcement or an attorney. They must be honest about what legal steps they intend to take to collect the debt. They cannot lie or misrepresent the facts.
  • Identification. A debt collector must tell you up front that they are attempting to collect a debt and that any information you provide will be used for that purpose. In any further communications, the collector must tell you their name and the name of their company.
  • Timing. Debt collectors cannot contact you at inconvenient times, typically before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.
  • Representation. If the debt collector knows that you have an attorney, they should not contact you directly.
  • Third Parties. Debt collectors are not supposed to speak with third parties about your debt. For example, if they call you at work, they should not talk to your boss or co-workers about why they are calling. Collectors can talk to the original creditor and your attorney. They can also discuss your debt with the credit reporting agencies.
  • Whereabouts. Debt collectors can speak with third parties to try to determine your whereabouts, but there are many restrictions on them when doing so. Once they know you have an attorney, they are not allowed to do this.
  • Threats. A debt collector is not allowed engage in conduct that is harassing or abusive. Calling you repeatedly, using profane language, and threatening to publicize your debts are not allowed. Threats of violence or harm to your reputation are also forbidden.

This is only a broad outline of violations under the FDCPA. If you feel that you have been subjected to unfair debt collection practices, you should consult with a FDCPA Attorney to determine your options.

What you can do about it?

  1. Save It. If you receive a debt collection notice, do not disregard it.  Ignoring a letter from a debt collector, whether or not the debt is valid, could have serious consequences to your credit score and your good name. Many times, consumers will receive a collection notice for a bill that was already paid or for a debt that isn’t theirs, and simply toss it in the trash, thinking things will sort themselves out. Don’t depend on a debt collector’s integrity when your financial health & well-being hangs in the balance.
  2. Contact an Attorney to check for FDCPA Violations. Because the FDCPA generally allows for reasonable attorneys’ fees, some firms, including Concord Law, P.C. & Marcus Law, will review the collection notice for violations free of charge to you. It is vital to act quickly—many rights afforded by the FDCPA are time sensitive. If you fail to use it, you lose it.

Some consumers choose to contact the debt collector directly in hopes of achieving favorable payment terms or to negotiate a settlement. However, this is not recommended without legal counsel to ensure that you are not waiving any rights without fair consideration.

You can also report the violations to the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The FTC is responsible for overseeing the FDCPA and the behaviors of debt collectors. The CFPB works with consumers and creditors to resolve complaints. Both of these federal agencies accept complaints through their websites. You should also consider a report at the state level. Washington State has a Consumer Protection Act as well that may provide you some relief. We will discuss this in more detail on the blog later.

You can also sue the collector. Again, experienced legal counsel is recommended to determine the best way to proceed and to help you receive the appropriate compensation. Statutory damages, legal expenses, and other relief may be available depending on your situation and how the debt collector behaved toward you. In addition, courts typically can take a debt collector’s compliance track record into account when awarding statutory damages. A knowledgeable attorney can help you determine your options in light of both federal and state laws and help navigate the legal system for your benefit.

Concord Law, P.C. has experience with FDCPA violations and possible remedies. If you’ve received a collection’s notice, contact Concord today and let us review it for FDCPA violations free of charge.*

*Complimentary review is limited to the initial consultation only (max. 60 minutes).  Applies only to collection notices concerning consumer related debt (i.e., obligation arose primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, etc.) and governed by the FDCPA.

Contact Information:

Concord Law, P.C. – https://concordlawseattle.com/