The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

A federal law that provides limitations on what debt collectors can do when collecting certain types of debt. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act covers how debt collection is reported in credit reports. In addition, there are state laws that provide protections.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is the main federal law that governs debt collection practices. The FDCPA prohibits debt collection companies from using abusive, unfair or deceptive practices to collect debts from you.

The FDCPA covers the collection of:

  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Medical debts
  • Other debts mainly for personal, family, or household purposes.

The FDCPA does not cover business debts. It also does not generally cover collection by the original creditor to whom you first became indebted.

Under the FDCPA, debt collectors include collection agencies, debt buyers, and lawyers who regularly collect debts as part of their business. There are also companies that buy past-due debts from creditors or other businesses and then try to collect them. These debt collectors are also usually called debt collection agencies, debt collection companies, or debt buyers.

Restrictions on communications by debt collectors when collecting a debt

  • Time and place. Generally, debt collectors may not contact you at an unusual time or place, or at a time or place they know is inconvenient to you, and they are  prohibited from contacting you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. Also if a debt collector knows that you’re not allowed to receive the debt collector’s communications at work, then the debt collector is not allowed to contact you there.
  • Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass you or anyone else, over the phone or through any other form of contact.
  • Representation by attorney. If a debt collector knows that an attorney is representing you about the debt, the debt collector generally must stop contacting you, and must contact the attorney instead. This is only true if the debt collector knows, or can easily find out, the name and contact information of your attorney. If an attorney is representing you and a debt collector calls, tell them which attorney is representing you and that the debt collector should contact the attorney, not you.

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