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Fair Debt Collection – Part II

  • By: Nancy Burnett, Esq.
  • Published: April 7, 2018
Fair Debt Collection - Part II

(This is the second part of a two-part series on the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.)

Misleading Acts

Misleading acts are prohibited. A debt collector may not

  • Falsely represent or imply that he or she is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any state, including the use of any badge, uniform, or similar identification
  • Falsely represent the character, amount, or legal status of the debt, or of any services rendered, or compensation he or she may receive for collecting the debt
  • Falsely represent or imply that he or she is an attorney or that communications are from an attorney
  • Threaten to take any action that is not legal or intended
  • Falsely represent or imply that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person, unless such action is lawful and intended by the debt collector or creditor
  • Falsely represent or imply that the sale, referral, or other transfer of the debt will cause the consumer to lose a claim or a defense to payment, or become subject to any practice prohibited by the FDCPA
  • Falsely represent or imply that the consumer committed a crime or other conduct to disgrace the consumer
  • Communicate, or threaten to communicate, false credit information or information that should be known to be false, including not identifying disputed debts as such
  • Use or distribute written communications made to look like or falsely represent documents authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any state if the appearance or wording would give a false impression of the document’s source, authorization, or approval
  • Use any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect a debt or to obtain information about a consumer
  • Fail to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer, and the initial oral communication if it precedes the initial written communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. In addition, the debt collector must disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector. (These disclosures do not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.)
  • Falsely represent or imply that accounts have been sold to innocent purchasers for value • Falsely represent or imply that documents are legal process
  • Use any name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization
  • Falsely represent or imply that documents are not legal-process forms or do not require action by the consumer
  • Falsely represent or imply that the debt collector operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency

Other Unfair Practices

Debt collection agencies may not:

  • collect an amount greater than what you owe;
  • deposit a postdated check prior to the date on the check;
  • communicate with you about a debt by postcard;
  • use envelopes that reveal information indicating that the sender is a debt-collection agency;
  • cause you to incur a communication expense, such as a collect telephone call charge, telegram fee, wire fee, or other similar charge, through the concealment of the true purpose of the communication; or
  • garnish your wages or take your home or possessions without a court judgment. (An exception exists for federally guaranteed student loans that are in default.)

Required Disclosure

Within five days after the first time a debt collector contacts you by phone or in writing, the debt collector must send in writing a notice telling you the amount you owe, the name of the original creditor, that the debt will be assumed valid unless you dispute it within 30 days, that the debt collector must mail you a copy of a verification that you owe the debt if you dispute it in writing, and that the debt collector will provide you the name and address of the original creditor if you request it in writing and it is different from the current creditor.

To file a complaint about a debt collector or creditor’s in-house collection agency, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It has an online debt collection complaint form and, in Georgia, the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection or call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP or mail a letter to:

Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580-0001

To file a complaint against a debt collector who is an attorney, contact the Georgia Bar Association’s Consumer Assistance Program at (706) 280-7152.

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