FDCPA (Debt Collection Harassment)

Q: What is FDCPA?
A: FDCPA stands for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “Act”).

Q: What does the Act do?
A: The Act prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or misleading practices in attempting to collect debt from you.

Q: Who qualifies as a debt collector?
A: Under the Act, a debt collector is someone who regularly collects debts owed to others. This includes collection agencies, lawyers who collect debts on a regular basis, as well as companies who buy delinquent debt and try to collect them.

Q: Who does not qualify as a debt collector?
A: Original creditors are generally not covered by the Act. An original creditor is the person/entity through whom you incurred the debt. Examples of original creditors are AT&T, Comcast, Mount Sinai Hospital, etc.

Q: What debts are covered?
A: The Act covers personal, family, and household debts, including money you may owe to credit card companies, auto loan companies, medical bills to hospitals/clinics/doctors/dentists, cell phone / cable television providers, and more!

Q: What debts are not covered?
A: The Act does not cover debts that you incurred to run a business.

Q: Can a debt collector contact me at any time or any place?
A: No. The Act prohibits debt collectors from contacting you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., unless you expressly agree to it. Debt collectors may also not contact you at work if you tell them (orally or in writing) that you are not allowed and/or do not want to receive
calls there.

Q: Can a debt collector contact anyone else about my debt?
A: If any attorney is representing you, the debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you. If the debt collector contacts you after you have hired an attorney, that debt collector has violated the Act. If you have not hired an attorney, a debt collector may contact other people—but only to find out your address, your home telephone number, and where you work. If a debt collector contacts someone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney, it is generally prohibited from identifying itself as a debt collector or otherwise disclosing the fact that you may owe a debt. Debt collectors are also usually prohibited from contacting third parties more than once.

Q: What does a debt collector have to tell me about the debt?
A: Every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much you owe, within five (5) days after they first contact you. This notice must also include the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money, and how to proceed if you do not think you owe the money.

Q: Can a debt collector keep contacting me if I don’t think I owe the money?
A: Not necessarily. If you send the debt collector a letter stating that you do not owe any or part of the debt, or asking for verification of the debt, the debt collector must stop contacting you. However, you must send that letter within thirty (30) days after receipt of the validation notice. A debt collector can begin contacting you again if it sends you written verification of the debt, i.e. a copy of a bill for the amount that you owe (like one of your old credit card statements).

Q: I requested verification of the debt sixty (60) days ago, and the debt collector has not responded—but now it is contacting me again. What rights to I have?
A: You may have a valid complaint. Although there is no time limit for them to verify the debt, they may not continue attempting to collect the debt unless and until they respond to your request for verification by providing the requisite documentation.

Q: What sorts of practices does the Act prohibit?
A: The following are just some of the practices that debt collectors may not use:

Harassment: Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, they may not:

  • use threats of violence or harm;
  • publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies);
  • use obscene or profane language;
  • speak to you in a condescending way / make derogatory comments; or
  • repeatedly use the phone to annoy you (calling an excessive number of times).

False statements: Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not:

  • falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
  • falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
  • falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
  • misrepresent the amount you owe;
  • indicate that papers they send you are legal forms if they are not; or
  • indicate that papers they send to you are not legal forms if they are.

Debt collectors also are prohibited from saying that:

  • you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt;
  • they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they are permitted by law to take the action and intend to do so; or
  • legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action.

Debt collectors may not:

  • give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company;
  • send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency if it is not;
  • use a false company name; or
  • fail to disclose when communicating with you that it is a debt collector, the purpose of its call is debt collection, and that any and all information learned will be used for that purpose. A debt collector must repeat this “mini-Miranda) each and every time it calls you.

Unfair practices: Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, they may not:

  • try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt – or your state law – allows the charge;
  • deposit a post-dated check early;
  • take or threaten to take your property unless it can be done legally; or
  • contact you by postcard.

Q: The debt collector has not contacted me in a while—how long do I have to bring a claim against the debt collector?
A: The Statute of Limitations is one (1) year. You have one (1) year from the date the violation occurred
to file a lawsuit against the debt collector for violation of the Act.

Q: What should I do if a debt collector has contacted or is contacting me?
A: You should consider contacting us by phone at (312) 632-1017 or email at istopdebtcollectors@gmail.com , for a free consultation. You may do this directly or utilize the contact box found throughout this website. We are experienced and dedicated consumer attorneys that will fight to help you turn the tables on the debt collectors—and make them pay you!

Q: How long will it take before an attorney reviews my case?
A: Once you submit your information, it is sent to an attorney for immediate review. The attorney will contact you by phone or email for a consultation (whichever you prefer) within 24 hours of your submission.

Q: Do you charge a fee for a consultation?
A: No. There is no fee for a consultation.

Q: How much money will I have to pay to hire you?
A: Not a penny. The FDCPA makes the debt collector pay you and pay us. We will handle all of the necessary up-front expenses for you (including the cost of filing a lawsuit); so, just sit back and let us fight for your consumer rights.

Q: If I sue the debt collector, how much money would I sue for?
A: Depending on the severity of the violation(s), it could be the complete removal of the debt, plus statutory damages of up to $1,000, plus the attorney fees paid in full by the debt collector. It could even by more, depending upon the action of the debt collector and whether you suffered actual damages (economic losses, mental anguish / emotional damages).

Q: Does my debt go away because a debt collector violated the Act?
A: No. Not necessarily. While in certain circumstances this can be negotiated, it may not be possible. A debt that you legitimately owe does not “go away” simply because a debt collector violated the Act.

Q: How long will the process take?
A: It depends on the case and what you desire. The entire process could take as little as a few weeks.

Q: Will I have to go to court?
A: It depends first on whether a lawsuit is filed. It is not always necessary to file a lawsuit, as many cases are successfully settled outside of court. If a lawsuit is filed and the parties are not able to work things out, it may be necessary to testify in court if your case goes to trial. If your case does goes to trial, do not worry—your attorney will be there by your side every step of the way. We fight for you! Please keep in mind though that 99% of these cases do not go to trial—instead—they are settled.

Q: Will I be kept informed of the developments in my case?
A: Absolutely. We pride ourselves on providing personal attention to our clients. We will make sure that you are kept informed every step of the way. Likewise, we will return all messages left within 24 hours. If you have any additional questions about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and/or how it may apply to you, please feel free to contact us by phone at (312) 632-1017 or email at istopdebtcollectors@gmail.com for a free consultation.