Fair Debt Practices Act
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The Fair Debt Practices Act, or more fully, the "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act," is the federal law passed by Congress that dictates what creditors and bill collectors can and cannot do.
Some of the things it prevents are:
- phone calls at unusual hours: they can only call between 8am and 9pm §805(a)(1) (15 USC 1692a)
- calling you at your job: if the harassing creditor knows that your employer prevents you from receiving these calls §805(a)(3)
- bugging you if you tell them to stop: a cease-desist letter mailed to the creditor often does the trick §805(c)
- creditor harassment: creditor harrassment includes things like using obscene or vulgar language, threats, repeated ringing of phone with intent to annoy §806
Also, a creditor cannot make false or misleading representations, including implying that the consumer has committed some crime, or that the debt is in the legal process when it is not. §807
Penalties and Fines
According to Section 813 [15 USC 1692 i], any debt collector who doesn't abide by these rules will owe up to $1000 plus attorney fees. 813(a)(2)-(3).