Unfair Debt Collection Practice

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Consumer Protection Act was amended in 1996 to include the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Public Law 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009 [1996]). Congress passed the law to address the abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices used by many debt collectors. Personal, family, and household debts are covered under the act. This includes money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care, or for charge accounts. A collector may contact a person by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. However, a debt collector may not contact a debtor at an inconvenient time, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless the debtor agrees. A debt collector also may not contact a debtor at an inappropriate place. For example, a collector may not contact a debtor at his place of work if the collector knows that the debtor's employer disapproves of such contacts.

Collectors may not contact debtors if the debtors send the collectors a letter asking them to stop. Collectors may not threaten or abuse debtors nor make false statements. Persons may sue collectors for violating the law and can collect up to $1,000 and attorneys' fees for a violation. A group of people also may sue a debt collector and recover money for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector's net worth, whichever is less.

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