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Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) – Fighting Bad Debts?
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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has protected debtors from their creditors since 1977. It establishes certain rights that you have to protect against aggressive debt collection practices. The FDCPA is quite complex, but understanding it is extremely important for those that want to fight their bad debts.
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What is covered under the FDCPA?
- Debt collectors cannot contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., and they must stop contacting you by phone if you ask them to.
- Debt collectors are not allowed to call you at work if they are told not to, and they cannot contact you if you have told them you have legal representation.
- Debt collectors cannot call you within 30 days after you’ve requested written proof of the debt.
- Debt collectors cannot speak with third parties regarding your debt or put false information on your credit report.
There are other rights that consumers have under the FDCPA as well; these are simply the major ones.
What should you do when you’re confronted by a debt collector?
When you’re confronted by a debt collector, you can ask them to send written proof of your debt. You should also direct them not to call you any longer, and to send all future correspondence by mail. If they do contact you after this, you may file a lawsuit against them and take legal action. The FDCPA is enforced in the federal court, and companies that violate FDCPA may be subject to significant fines and penalties. Document any instances of FDCPA violations.
Once you have told the debt collection agency to stop calling you, you will want to contact a credit repair company and check your credit report. You will want to ensure that your credit score is not reflecting anything that is not correct, such as an incorrect payment history, as this would also be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The credit repair company will be able to direct you as to your next move and begin working with you to repair your credit.
Finding out more about your debt.
Once you have stopped debt collectors from contacting you, you will need to review your debts. Another part of the FDCPA is that the debt collection agency cannot charge you unreasonable amounts over your initial debt. You should study your debt carefully to ensure that it is actually owed. If it is not, your credit repair agency can help you dispute the debt. Remember that some credit collectors have actually purchased your debt from someone else. If this is the case, your credit agency may be able to help you negotiate down from the actual cost of the debt. It’s very important to work closely with a credit agency at this time, as they are the experts in dealing with debt collectors and are well-versed with regard to the FDCPA.
Your credit agency has a variety of tools that it can use to help you fight your debt once you have already dealt with your debt collectors through the FDCPA. Your credit agency may be able to help you in settling your debt for a lower amount than what is owed, and it may be able to get unfair fines, penalties or interest removed entirely. Each person’s debt situation is different, and so it will depend on a case-by-case basis. If the debt is entirely incorrect, the credit agency will work with you to help you prove that the debt either was never taken out by you or that the debt has already been paid by you. A credit agency will do everything it can to ensure that you are not unfairly taken advantage of by a debt collection company.
Can you sue your debt collector?
If your debt collector has violated any element of the FDCPA, you may want to seek counsel as soon as possible. As mentioned, it’s important to document any contact with the debt collector that you have, including the initial communications during which you requested that they stop calling you. When you sue a debt collector, you can sue for damages. Often, the reward may be upward of $1,000, and you can also pursue the cost of your legal fees. However, keep in mind that suing the debt collector will not dissolve your debt; you will still need to work with your credit repair agency.
You may also be wondering if your debt collector can sue you; this is highly dependent on the state that you are in. According to the FDCPA, once a debt is 10 years old, a lawsuit cannot be raised, but this time period is much shorter in many states. If you feel that you may be the target of a lawsuit, you will want to contact a legal professional immediately. There are ways that you can defend yourself against a debt collection suit.
Your credit score is incredibly important, and every action possible should be taken to ensure that it is not adversely affected by the debt collection process or that it is rebuilt as soon as possible. Credit repair agencies not only specialize in helping you build your FICO score back up, but they also work with you to protect you against debt collection agencies and bad debt collection practices. It’s important that you know your rights and that you defend your rights.