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Receiving harassing and threatening calls from debt collectors is the last thing a person in Kansas City who is already under an incredible amount of financial distress needs. Unfortunately, in the past many debt collectors engaged in unscrupulous practices in an attempt to collect on an individual’s debt. Because of this, Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The FDCPA prevents debt collectors from engaging in deceptive, unfair or abusive measures to collect on one’s debts. Debt collectors include not only debt collection agencies, but also companies that purchase debts and attorneys who routinely collect on debts. Debts covered under the FDCPA include credit card debt, medical debt, motor vehicle loans and mortgages.

Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are limited in how and when they can contact a debtor. They cannot reach debtors at locations or hours that are inconvenient. In general this means they cannot call prior to 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., and they cannot call at a debtor’s place of employment if they are notified that the debtor is not permitted to receive calls there.

In addition, debt collectors must send debtors a written document explaining how much money remains on the debt at least five days after the debt collector initially contacts the debtor. The document must also contain the name of the debtor’s creditor and what actions the debtor can take if they believe they actually do not owe any money to that creditor.

In addition, if the debtor is represented by a lawyer, the debt collector can only contact the lawyer and not the debtor themselves. Also, debt collectors can only reach out to other people to obtain the debtor’s phone number, address and place of employment and in general can only contact a third party one time. Debt collectors in general cannot discuss the debtor’s financial situation with anyone except the debtor, the debtor’s attorney and the debtor’s spouse if the debtor is married.

These are only some topics covered by the FDCPA. In the future we will discuss further topics under the FDCPA, including what constitutes creditor harassment, threats and unfair practices. By learning more about the FDCPA, debtors can further protect their rights against illegal debt collection practices.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, “Debt Collection,” accessed Feb. 15, 2015