Experienced Ventura Bankruptcy Attorneys Explain the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
If you are behind on your bill payments, you may be experiencing undue pressure and harassment from creditors and professional bill collectors to pay up, regardless of your ability to pay or not. Although bankruptcy is one option for dealing with oppressive debt, it is also important to know your rights to be free from unlawful harassment. As practicing bankruptcy attorneys at Rounds & Sutter in Ventura, we respond to tales of such abuse by helping our clients assert their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that tells bill collectors what kinds of activity they can and cannot engage in during their attempts to collect on a debt. Consumers who are harassed by violations of the FDCPA can sue the bill collectors for any actual damages they suffered, including attorney’s fees and court costs, or they may collect up to $1,000 in statutory damages.
Under the FDCPA, bill collectors are prohibited from the following:
- Calling your home before 8:00 in the morning or after 9:00 at night, or at other inconvenient times
- Contacting you at work if you have told them you are not allowed to receive calls there
- Contacting you once you have informed them you are represented by an attorney
- Continuing to call you after you have told them to stop
- Calling you without identifying themselves
- Calling you for the purpose of harassing or annoying you
- Using profane or obscene language
- Making threats of violence
- Making false or misleading representations
- Threatening you with legal action that they cannot take or do not intend to take
- Threatening you with arrest
- Publishing your name on a list of people who owe them money
- Contacting your family, neighbors or co-workers, except for limited purposes
The FDCPA only applies to professional bill collectors, such as collection agencies acting on behalf of the original creditor or companies who buy up debt and then try to collect on their own behalf. Even if they are not bound by the FDCPA, however, your creditors must still refrain from unlawful behavior in their collection activities. Hiring an attorney is one way to deal with abusive behavior from creditors and bill collectors. Also, any collection activity automatically stops the moment you file for bankruptcy, under the automatic stay provisions of the bankruptcy laws.
If you are being threatened, annoyed or harassed by bill collectors, or if you have experienced any of the types of behavior described above, contact Rounds & Sutter to discuss the ways in which we can help put an end to this conduct and bring you back to a sense of security and peace of mind. We have offices in Ventura, Santa Barbara, Westlake Village and San Clemente, and your initial consultation is free of charge.