American consumers are protected by law from abusive debt collection practices. The U.S. Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, recognizing that abusive debt collection practices have serious effects on the individual. Evidence shows that abusive debt collection practices lead to bankruptcies, loss of employment, marital instability or invasion of privacy. The FDCPA lays out the detailed behavior that debt collection agencies must exhibit in order not to be found abusive. Aside from the FDCPA, states also have their own consumer protection laws, which are in accordance with federal legislation.
Among other things, the FDCPA prohibits debt collection agencies from using violence, threats or harassment to induce a debtor to pay up his debts. Aside from agencies, debt collection can also be performed by lawyers and other companies. The Act enumerates the specific behavior that debt collection agencies are prohibited from exhibiting. These prohibited behavior include not asking other persons the location of the debtor, communicating with the debtor at any unusual time of the day, the use of violence or obscene language, and use of false representations. The FDCPA only applies to consumer debts, which are personal debts. These kinds of debts include car loans, student loans, mortgages, credit card debts, household expenses, and medical debts. Another law governs debts incurred in relation to running a business.
The FDCPA imposes fines against the debt collection or the debt collection agency once found to have violated the law. In addition, the FDCPA also allows the debtors to recover actual damages sustained as a result of the abusive debt collection practices and other additional damages. Abusive debt collection practices are the subject of many class action lawsuits, under which plaintiffs may recover substantial amount.
Incurring and facing debts is a stressful event. Debt collection agencies are zealous in their pursuit against debtors, especially when the debt is of a substantial amount. While debt collection agencies are prohibited from using deceptive practices in the performance of their work, the agencies' abusive practices will not wipe out the debt. Rather, the debt remains the same. Non-payment of debts can lead to the debt collection agencies to sue the debtor, which can blow the problem out of proportion. When faced with burdensome debt and experiencing harassment by debt collection agencies, it is best to seek the help of debt collection law attorneys in order to stop the stressful debt collecting and try to restructure the debt. Banks are typically generous to debtors especially when these debtors are facing personal problems, which caused them to delay payments. It is best to contact an attorney and the bank to try to obtain a restructuring of the debt or a forbearance of the payment. The law provides for ways to stop abusive debt collection practices and attorneys would be knowledgeable as to what specific provisions of the law to utilize in order to stop these practices. Rather than risk being sued by the debt collection agencies for non-payment, it is best to seek the advice of expert debt collection law attorneys.