Learn How the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Protects You From Harassment by Debt Collectors
Mortgage lenders and other debt collectors are well-known for harassing people with consistent, annoying phone calls and threatening messages. Most people don't know that there are laws in place to protect them from these phone calls. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (hereinafter referred to as “FDCPA") limits the timing and recurrence of phone calls from creditors, and also gives consumers the ability to opt out of debt collection calls with a simple cease-and-desist letter. It's disappointing that more people don't take advantage of these consumer protection laws.
We've created easy-to-use cease and desist letters that you can send to your mortgage lender to make them stop calling you. You can download them here.
How does the FDCPA protect me?
The most frequent desire that a consumer has is to keep debt collectors from calling them on the telephone. This can be accomplished by sending them a letter.
Under the FDCPA, if a consumer notifies any debt collector in writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to the debt, except to communicate the following:
- To advise the consumer that the debt collector’s further efforts are being terminated;
- To notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor;
- To notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy
If I don’t send my lender a “stop calling” letter, are they allowed to call me?
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors (such as your mortgage lender) may generally call you between 8:00 A.M. And 9:00 P.M. local time. Debt collectors cannot call you at an unusual time or place, or any other place that should be known to them to be inconvenient for you. In addition, they cannot:
- Cause your telephone to ring repeatedly or continuously.
- Engage you in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass you or anyone else at your telephone number.
They may call you at any telephone number that you provided in an application to obtain credit. This may include your home telephone, your cellular telephone, or your telephone number at your place of employment. However, you must send a written “stop calling” letter to make your mortgage lender stop calling you on your cellular telephone or home telephone.
SPECIAL NOTE: If your mortgage lender or any other debt collector is calling you at your place of employment, you may verbally tell them to stop calling you at work. This notification does not need to be in writing, however, we suggest that all “stop calling” notifications should be in writing and sent by Certified Mail in order to provide you with proof of your requests.
Background of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The U.S. Congress commissioned a study which found that there was an abundance of evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by mortgage bankers and other debt collectors. Congress found that abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy. Accordingly, Congress enacted the FDCPA to protect consumers from such abusive tactics.
Will the FDCPA protect me from collections?
The FDCPA is meant to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive collection activities. Remember that the FDCPA does not stop creditors from attempting to collect debts—it just makes them play fairly.
Can they call someone other than me about my debts?
It depends. Generally, a debt collector may not communicate (in connection with the collection of a debt) with any person other than a consumer, the consumer’s attorney, the creditor, the creditor’s attorney, or the attorney of the debt collector. In order to speak with someone else regarding your debts, the debt collector must obtain one of the following:
- Your prior consent given directly by you
- Express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction
EXCEPTION #1: A debt collector does not need to obtain either of the above if they are reasonably attempting to effectuate a post-judgment judicial remedy.
EXCEPTION #2: Acquisition of Location Information:
A debt collector may communicate with a person other than the consumer without obtaining the consumer’s consent, for the sole purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer. However, these rules must be followed:
- The debt collector must identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer.
- The debt collector must not state that such consumer owes any debt.
- The debt collector must not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information.
- The debt collector may not communicate by postcard.
- The debt collector may not use any language or symbol on any envelope or in the contents of any communication sent by the mails or telegram that indicates that the debt collector is in the debt collection business or that the communication relates to the collection of a debt.
- After the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with regard to the subject debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney’s name and address, the debt collector may not communicate with any person other than that attorney, unless the attorney fails to respond to the communication from the debt collector within a reasonable period of time.
For your reference, you may read the entire FDCPA here.
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