Unlawful Deceiving Debt Collection Practices
Can a Debt Collector Try to Deceive Me to Collect on a Debt?
Federal law typically prohibits debt collectors from using any false, deceptive, or misleading misrepresentation when trying to collect a debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that forbids doing this.
Consumers may file a lawsuit for damages such as lost wages and medical expenses incurred as a result of the illegal collection methods or efforts if a debt collector breaches the FDCPA when seeking to collect a debt. If the debt is legitimately owed, it is not waived simply because a collection agency broke United States law.
Read more below to answer your questions like “can a debt collector try to deceive me to collect on a debt?”
What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
A federal law known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) limits the acts of third-party debt collectors who work to recover debts on behalf of another person or organization. The ways, time, and amount of communication between debtors and collectors are all subject to legal limitations.
If the FDCPA is broken, the debtor has the right to file a lawsuit against the debt collection agency and the individual debt collector to recover damages and legal costs. The Debt Collection Rule, established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in November 2021, clarifies how debt collectors can engage with debtors.
How Does it Works?
The FDCPA establishes a structure inside which debt collectors may operate to make the process of collecting debts fair and non-aggressive. The law restricts the times of the day that debt collectors may call, the language they use, and the manner in which they identify themselves. Debtors have two options if a debt collector breaks the law: they can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or sue the debt collector in court.
Debtors are not protected from those trying to recover personal debt by the FDCPA. For instance, if you owe money to your neighborhood hardware store and the owner contacts you to collect the debt, they are not considered debt collectors for this act. Only third-party debt collectors, such as those employed by debt collection agencies, are covered by the FDCPA. The law protects consumers against debt related to credit cards, medical expenses, student loans, mortgages, and other types of household debt.
What Types of Debts are Covered by FDCPA?
The Act covers debts that you owe on personal credit card accounts, auto loans, medical bills, and mortgages. It also covers family and household debts. Debts that you incurred to operate a business are not covered by the FDCPA.
What is a Debt Collector?
A company or agency that recovers money owing on delinquent accounts is known as a debt collector. Many companies that owe money to debtors use debt collectors, who work for fees, or a portion of the total amount collected.
Some debt collectors are also debt buyers; these companies acquire debt below its face value and then make an effort to collect the entire amount owed. A collection agency is another name for a debt collector.
Understanding Debt Collectors
A borrower’s delinquency will be reported to the credit bureau if they are unable to pay off their debts or do not make the required loan installments. In addition to negatively impacting their credit history, within three to six months of default, their debt will be handed over to a collection agency or debt collector. Delinquent debts that a debt collector may be tasked with collecting include overdue payments on credit card balances, phone bills, auto loan payments, utility payments, and back taxes.
Companies found that hiring a debt collector to recover unpaid payments is less expensive than pursuing clients on their own. Whether a debtor has relocated or changed their phone number, the collector has the resources and techniques necessary to locate them.
What Deceptions Are Prohibited by The FDCPA For Debt Collectors to Use?
Under the FDCPA, a collection agency is prohibited from using deceptive practices to collect debts. For instance, it cannot:
- pretend to be a law enforcement agency or imply a relationship with the federal, state, or local governments. Unless they are attempting to recover unpaid child support or they are a private check diversion program working under contract with a district attorney, a debt collector making such a claim is likely lying.
- intentionally misrepresent your debt or the payment the collection agency will get.
- claim to be a lawyer or imply that a message is coming from a lawyer
- unless the collection company or original creditor plans to take action that could lead to your imprisonment or the seizure of your property, do not assert that you will be locked up or that your property will be taken. You can only be jailed for a minimal number of offenses.
- threaten to take unintended or impractical action; for example, if a collection agency writes you a letter stating that it is a “final notice,” it cannot write you again for payment.
- falsely claim that you’ve committed an offense
- threatening to sell a debt to a third party and claiming that you will lose any payment-related defenses you had against the creditor, like a warranty breach
- give incorrect information about your credit, such as by failing to mention that you are disputing a debt
- give you a document that appears to be from a court, an attorney, or to be a part of a legal proceeding if it isn’t
- using a company name other than the debt collector’s actual name
- unless the debt collector and the credit bureau are owned by the same company, never claim to work for a credit bureau.
- garnish your wages, bank account, or other property unless doing so is legal and what they intend to do.
Tips for situations similar to the scenarios above:
Keep copies of all documents or letters you get from debt collectors in a file. Anything you send to a debt collector, save copies of it. Record the times and dates of your conversations along with notes on what you spoke about. If you have a disagreement with a debt collector, consult with a debt defense attorney, or go to court, these documents may be useful to you.
Protect Yourself Against Debt Collection Frauds!
Within one year of the day the FDCPA was broken, you have the right to sue a debt collector in a state or federal court if you think they provided you with false, misleading, or deceptive information. If you win a lawsuit under the FDCPA, the debt collector can be required to pay your legal costs and damages.
Take action right away. Your chances of success increase the faster you act. Contact a Portland debt defense lawyer near you to take action.
The debt defense attorneys at Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm in Portland, Salem, and Medford, Oregon, and Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver, Washington, assist clients who are being subjected to illegal deceptive activities in realizing that they have the power to win the case. Our debt collection lawsuit attorneys will uphold your debtor rights in and out of court.
For a free debt analysis, give us a call right away.
Northwest Debt Defense Law Firm
650 NE Holladay St, Suite 1640
Portland, OR 97232, United States
NW Debt Defense Law Firm is a Debt Relief Agency. Where appropriate we file petitions for relief under the Bankruptcy Code solely for consumers in the District of Oregon. We represent both Oregon and Washington consumers in collections law suits in Oregon and Washington state courts.