"Be Empowered, Know Your Rights"
Most Americans are unaware of their legal rights and the most frustrating
part is not knowing where to find the correct answers to their questions. When considering debt
negotiations it is necessary to take the time to understand your legal rights.
If you use credit cards, owe money on a personal loan, or medical bills you are a "debtor." If you fall behind
in repaying your creditors, you may be contacted by a "debt collector." You should know that in either situation,
the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly and prohibits certain
methods of debt collection. Of course, the law does not erase any legitimate debt you owe.
is a list of the most common questions we hear from clients, the information below is concerning yours rights under
the FDCPA. At FSLC we will be able to assist you with most of these debts, but to be sure of what we can
handle concerning your case you will need to speak with one of our debt analyst to determine if you
What debts are covered under FDCPA?
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.
How may a debt
collector contact you?
A collector may
contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. However, a debt collector may not contact
you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt
collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves of
Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collector
telling them to stop. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to
say there will be no further contact or to notify you that the debt collector or the creditor intends
to take some specific action. Please note, however, that sending such a letter to a collector does not
make the debt go away if you actually owe it. You could still be sued by the debt collector or your
What must the debt collector
tell you about the debt?
Within five days after you are first contacted, the collector must send you a written notice
telling you the amount of money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and what
action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.
What types of debt
collection practices are prohibited?
Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any
third parties they contact. For example, debt collectors may not:
- use threats of violence or harm;
- publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);
- use obscene or profane language; or repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.
False statements. Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements
when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
- falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
- falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
- falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
- misrepresent the amount of your debt;
- indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not; or
- indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are.
What can you do if you
believe a debt collector violated the law?
You have the right to sue a collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date
the law was violated. If you win, you may recover money for the damages you suffered plus an additional
amount up to $1,000. Court costs and attorney's fees also can be recovered. 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.
Where can you report a debt
collector for an alleged violation?
Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your State Attorneys General and the
Federal Trade Commission . Many states have their own debt collection laws, and your Attorney General's
office can help you determine your rights.
This website cannot provide you with legal advice, for more information,
visit your local area's legal aid or consult an attorney.
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