Not All Debt Collection Activity is Illegal

Often times consumers complain about collection
agencies
andJustice _scale their collection efforts.  They
complain that the
collectors are abusive and harassing
, and, if nothing else,
overly persistent in making
phone calls
.  It is no secret that collectors use various
tactics to coerce consumers in making payment on their debts. 
It is important to know that some of these practices are illegal
and cross the line
established by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”)

and some activities, plain and simple are NOT.  While the
FDCPA clearly prohibits certain collection tactics, there are
numerous activities not considered illegal despite the fact you may
feel otherwise.  

Under the FDCPA, you have a right to request that the collector

cease all verbal communication
with you and the collector must
obey your wishes.  However, despite your request, not every
communication thereafter is considered illegal.  A collector
can contact you to inform you it has ended its collection efforts
or to inform you it intends to take legal action against you. 
Also, the collector can call you to inform you of a specific remedy
the creditor intends to avail itself of, as long as the creditor
does intend to avail itself of those remedies.


The FDCPA prohibits
collectors from making empty threats. 
What this means it that a collector cannot threaten to sue you or
garnish your wages and/or bank accounts if they do NOT intend to
take this action or legally cannot take such action against
you.  A collector can however, make these statements in an
effort to collect your debt if they are in fact a statement of
their true intentions.  While such threats are intimidating
and may even seem like harassment, these comments do not cross the
line of illegal collection tactics when they are sincere.  A
collector may NOT however, threaten to arrest you or garnish your
wages or bank account without a judgment against you
first.  

It is NOT a violation of the FDCPA to
contact a third party
 such as a friend, family member, or
co-worker.  In a post last week, I blogged about third party contact and
how collectors use this legal collection practice to get debtors to
pay off their debts.  It is a common practice for collectors
to contact your friends, family and/or neighbors and this conduct,
when done within the confines of the FDCPA is NOT in violation of
the statute.  A collector may communicate with a third party
to obtain information about your whereabouts and this conduct is
NOT in violation of the statute.  However, a collector cannot
communicate with the third party on more than one occasion, unless
it believes there is new or additional information regarding the
debtor.  Furthermore, the collector cannot disclose any
information regarding you or your debt when communicating with the
third party or the conduct is in violation of the
FDCPA.   

Debt collectors calling you at multiple numbers a few times in a
day is also NOT considered a violation, especially if the collector
has never spoken with you directly.  While section
1692 d(5) 
of the FDCPA states that
multiple calls
made to the consumer with the intent to annoy or
harass the consumer is a violation of the statute, more and more
courts are holding that mere volume of
calls
is not sufficient to amount to a violation of the
Act.  You must be able to show some intent to harass, in other
words, the natural consequence of the calls is to harass you and
coerce you into payment. 

If you feel your rights have been violated under the FDCPA,
contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free
case review
.