Fair Debt Collection Practices Act


The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA is a set of United States statutes added as Title VIII of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Its purpose is to ensure ethical practices in the collection of consumer debts and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information's accuracy. It is often used in conjunction with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The FDCPA prohibits third-party debt collectors from employing deceptive or abusive conduct in the collection of consumer debts incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. Such collectors may not, for example, contact debtors outside of the hours of 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM local time, subject debtors to repeated telephone calls, threaten debtors with arrest or legal action that is not actually contemplated, or reveal to or discuss with uninvolved parties the existence of the debts.

The FDCPA does not stop collectors from contacting consumers on holidays or weekends. The FDCPA only applies to third party collectors not the original creditor's internal collectors. The FDCPA does allow the consumer to request all communication be stopped provided that the consumer issues the request in writing.

The FDCPA provides for recovery in court of a consumer's actual damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and court costs. It is a strict liability law, which means that a consumer need not prove actual damages in order to claim statutory damages, and it allows a court to award such damages in the amount of $1,000 simply if a collection agency is proven to violate its strictures.

Some consumer groups argue that the FDCPA does not go far enough, and does not provide sufficient deterence against unscrupulous collection agencies. Some in the collections industry, conversely, have taken the stance that the FDCPA goes too far.

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