Eviction Attorneys


Illegal Debt Collection Practices and Procedures


The Federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits a collection agent from engaging in many activities. If a collection agent violates the law, the debtor has the right to sue both the agent and the creditor that hired the agent. If the conduct is deemed outrageous, the creditor may waive the debt and remove the negative marks from the debtor's credit file in exchange for the debtor not filing a lawsuit.

Under the FDCPA, a collection agent cannot legally engage in any of the following:

Communications with third parties. If the debtor has an attorney, the collection agent must deal with the attorney unless the debtor gives the agent permission to contact him or her directly. A collection agent cannot contact other people except to locate the debtor. When contacting other people, the agent must state his or her name and that he or she is confirming or correcting location information about you. An agent cannot:

Give the collection agency's name, unless asked;
State that a debt is owed; or
Contact the person more than once unless the person requests it or the agent believes the person's first response was wrong or incomplete.

Communications with you. A collection agent cannot contact the debtor:

At an unusual or inconvenient time or place. Calls before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. are not allowed; or
At work, if he or she knows that the debtor's employer prohibits him or her from receiving collection calls at work.

Harassment or abuse. A collection agent cannot engage in conduct intended to harass, oppress or abuse the debtor. An agent cannot:

Use or threaten to use violence or to harm the debtor, another person, or the debtor's or another person's reputation or property;
Use obscene or profane language;
Publish the debtor's name as a person who doesn't pay bills, such as on a “deadbeats” list;
List the debt for sale to the public;
Call the debtor repeatedly; or
Place telephone calls to the debtor or any other person without identifying himself or herself.

False or misleading representations. A collection agent cannot:

Claim to be a law enforcement officer, suggest that he or she is connected with the government, or send a document that looks like it's from a court or government agency;
Falsely represent the amount owed;
Falsely claim to be an attorney or send a document that looks like it's from an attorney;
Communicate false credit information, including failing to tell a third party the debtor disputes the debt;
Threaten to take action that isn't intended or can't be taken by law;
Use a false business name; or
Claim to be employed by a credit bureau, unless the collection agency and the credit bureau are the same company.

Unfair Practices. A collection agent cannot engage in any unfair or outrageous method to collect a debt. A collection agent cannot:

Solicit a postdated check by threatening the debtor with criminal prosecution;
Add interest, fees, or charges not authorized in the original contract or by state law;
Accept a check postdated by more than five days unless he or she notifies the debtor between three and ten days in advance of when he or she will deposit it;
Deposit a postdated check prior to the date on the check;
Or call collect or otherwise cause the debtor to incur communications charges.