In this article from Arizona’s Pew Law Center, we answer the question so many people ask of us – that is, “Are there any restraints on debt collectors?” The answer to that question is a resounding YES!
History of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
There was a time when debt collectors got away with using just about any tactic they wanted to recover money – abusiveness, deceptiveness, unfairness. These abusive tactics included the use of offensive language and harassment in just about every form including threats of violence, threats of deportation, threats of eviction, threats of repossession, threats of, well, anything a collector could think of to put the fear of God in a debtor. It was a “pay or else” approach to collecting money on past-due obligations and, sometimes, on debts the consumer didn’t even owe.
These debt collectors had to show results. How the collector conducted himself or herself was unimportant, so long as it squeezed another payment out of the intimidated consumer. The victims of ruthless and relentless collectors often suffered greatly. Their marriages were undermined. Their privacy was invaded. Their family members were threatened. Their jobs were often at risk because debt collectors interfered at the workplace, too. (Can you imagine how humiliating it would be for a debt collector to show up unannounced at your place of employment, call you a deadbeat in front of your boss and co-workers, and demand immediate payment?)
These collection abuses became so widespread that federal legislation was needed to protect all consumer debtors. That protection came in the form of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1978 (FDCPA). In enacting the FDCPA, the U.S. Congress encouraged honest collection practices by penalizing ruthless debt collectors. Those who violated the law to gain first access to the debtor’s money, pushing aside law-abiding debt collectors...
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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