The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is created to protect consumers from abusive or harassing conduct, false or misleading statements or unfair act by Debt Collectors.
Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act “to eliminate abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors” and to avoid debt collection activities that “contribute to … personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy.” 15 U.S.C. §1692(a),(e).
Abusive debt collection practices had risen to the level of “‘a widespread and serious national problem.’” Johnson v. Riddle, 305 F.3d 1107, 1117 (10th Cir. 2002) (quoting S. Rep. 95-382, at 2 (1977)).
What’s “unfair or unconscionable” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
First, we start with the statutory definition. 15 USC 1692c prohibits a collector from communicating with third parties that you owe a debt.
15 USC 1692d prohibits collectors from using abusive means to collect a debt, including
(5) Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.
15 U.S.C. §1692e says a debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading . . . means to collect a debt, including
(11) The failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.
(14) The use of any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization.
15 U.S.C. §1692f says a debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. Including–
(5) Causing charges to be made to any person for communications by concealment of the true purpose of the communication. Such charges include, but are not limited to, collect telephone calls and telegram fees.
What does this mean for you?
It means that a debt collector CAN try to collect by using text messages but only IF they comply with all of the rules of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. But these are very limited, when tweet has a limit of 140 characters.
If a collector only has 140 characters to communicate, but they still must 1-disclose their identity, 2-that they are debt collectors, and 3-that they are collecting a debt, 4-without causing you to be charged a fee, and 5-without disclosing to a 3rd party that you owe a debt … Well that’s pretty difficult.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is strict liability, which means that if they violate ANY provision, that they can be sued and have to pay you statutory damages up to $1000.00. Just like with the speed limits posted on the highways in the United States. Neither the police officer or the judge, care WHY you were going 60 MPH when the speed limit was 55 MPH. The only thing they care about is THAT you were going 5 miles over the speed limit. You’re still going to have to pay the fine. (If you get a good lawyer like me then at least you can avoid the points on your record). Likewise, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act says that collectors are not permitted to violate one provision in order to avoid violating another section. (See: Edwards v. Niagra Credit, (11th Cir)). If the collector violates any provision of the FDCPA, then they must pay you, the STATUTORY fine. They will also have to pay for your attorney fees. CONGRESS wanted the attorney fee provision in the law so that consumers can find lawyers to represent them against bill collectors who are violating the law.
If you think you have a creditor who has violated the FDCPA, call Rex Anderson at 810-653-3300. He has helped many consumers get the settlement and outcome they deserve.
Collaborative Writing by Rex C. Anderson, Esquire and Contributing Research/Writing by Kellye S. Smith
Related search terms:
- text messaging debt collection
- can debt collectors text you
- text message debt colleciton disclosure
- are debt collectors allowed to use text messaging
- state text message debt collection laws
- michigan texing collection law
- michigan law on texts messaging history
- is it legal for a bill collector to text mesage you
- federal law dss communication with text
- fdcpa text message