Don’t Let Debt Collectors Mislead You
It often seems like debt collectors are in the business of deception, yet according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a third party debt collection agency cannot mislead you. Misleading third party debt collection happens on a daily basis, often in order to frighten consumers into paying. Here are some of the ways third party debt collection agencies violate the FDCPA through misleading consumers:
Who they are: A debt collector may not misrepresent himself to you or to people you know. Not only does he have to reveal his true name and the true name of the debt collection agency, but he cannot pretend to be affiliated with a consumer reporting agency, the government, or with a law enforcement agency. So, for example, he cannot wear a uniform that makes you think he’s a police officer, and cannot flash a badge to make you think he’s from the IRS. In addition, he can’t pretend or imply that he’s an attorney if that’s not the case. In short, if a debt collector misrepresents himself in order to get you to pick up the phone or pay a debt, it’s a violation of the FDCPA.
What they say: A misleading third party debt collection agency representative might offer any one of a number of lies in order to get you to part with your money. According to the FDCPA, it’s illegal for a debt collector to lie about the type, amount, or legal status of the debt. He also can’t say that you’ve committed a crime, or threaten to have you arrested, to seize your property, to garnish your wages, or to report false information to a credit reporting agency. Every time a debt collection agency contacts you, they must tell you that they are trying to collect a debt, and that any information you provide will be used for that purpose.
What they send you: The provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Act that pertain to false representation also apply to the documents a third party debt collection agency sends to you or gives to you. Often, a debt collector will send official-looking documents that look as though they come from a court or governmental agency. Other times, third party debt collection agencies send notices that imply that you’re being taken to court when that’s not the case. These practices are forbidden under the FDCPA. At the same time, it’s against the law for a debt collector to actually take legal action but mislead you into believing that you do not have to respond. It’s very common for debt collection agencies to tell you that no action is necessary, when in fact they’re trying to run out the clock. This is because, if you fail to respond within a certain timeframe, a court will rule that you are not contesting the debt, and will approve a judgment against you.
What they try to collect: A debt collector is allowed to try and obtain payment for a legitimate debt, but all too often he tries to collect more than what is owed. So, for example, a third party debt collection agency might try to tack on interest, fees, or collection charges to the amount owed. This is illegal under the FDCPA, unless your state has a law that allows those charges. It is also a violation of the FDCPA for a debt collector to make you pay for collect calls, telegrams, and so forth.
How to Fight Back Against Deception
If you’ve been deceived by a third party debt collection agency, it’s important to fight back. First, keep a record of every conversation you have with the debt collector, along with anything you receive in writing (including the envelopes). This kind of documentation can help you establish that the debt collector misled you and violated the FDCPA.
Second, contact a Fair Debt attorney. If the debt collection agency has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you are entitled to actual damages, attorney fees, and up to $1,000. The legal team at The Prado Law Firm will provide you with a free case evaluation, and will represent you if you’ve been the victim of misleading debt collection practices. To speak with a representative directly and immediately call (470) 353-8870 or a free, no obligation case evaluation.