Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

Posted on Dec 03, 2012 By Ronald C. Sykstus

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is found at 15 USC § 1692. It is a very powerful federal consumer statute packed into just six pages. The FDCPA was enacted by Congress on September 20, 1977 and became effective six months later. In formulating the Act, Congress articulated the purposes for the enactment of legislation as follows: “There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors. Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to the invasions of individual privacy.” 15 USC § 1692(a).

For there to be a violation of this Act, there must be a consumer debt, a debt collector, and a violation of the Act. It is important to note that this Act covers consumer debts only and does not cover commercial or business debts. The debt has to be for personal, family, or household purposes such as medical bills, utility bills, insurance bills, or credit cards. The following areas DO NOT fall under the FDCPA: child support, income tax, or tort claims such as car accidents. The debt collector involved must be a third-party debt collector. Note that the original creditor itself is excluded from the definition of a debt collector and, again, the Act only applies to a third-party debt collector or debt collection lawyers who have a regular debt collection practice.

Whether the communication or other conduct by a debt collector violates the FDCPA is determined by the courts by analyzing it from the prospective of the least sophisticated consumer, and that is to ensure that the FDCPA protects all consumers, the gullible as well as the shrewd. There are four keys in deciding whether there is a violation of the FDCPA: Was the communication untruthful, unfair, undignified, or disrespectful? Whether the debt is actually owed or not is immaterial.

If you believe you are being unfairly harassed by a third-party debt collector under the FDCPA, please feel free to contact one of our offices closest to you as we practice in this area of law. Additionally, please use search engines such as Google or Bing to see who is contacting you and, if at all possible, get the full name of the debt collector as well as the full mailing address, city, state and zip code. Additionally, it is very important to keep detailed notes if you start getting harassed in an untruthful, unfair, undignified or disrespectful manner by a debt collector. Please write up detailed notes every time you are contacted in this disrespectful manner and make sure you write down the time of the call, the date, the number the call came from, how the person identified himself or herself, and exactly what was said by them and by you. It is also very important to make sure you keep all correspondence received from the debt collector. You can contact the office that is most convenient to you at www.bondandbotes.com in order to see how our office can help you if you are being harassed by a debt collector.