The COVID pandemic has created a new and trying time. Between stay-at-home orders, and increasing unemployment, people across the US are challenged to keep up with their bills and make ends meet. The government is scrambling to invoke temporary restrictions for debt collectors in the coming months which may extend forms of payment forgiveness and waived fees. But did you know that there are already laws in place to protect consumers from aggressive debt collection?
The Federal Trade Commission (or FTC) enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This acts specifically makes it illegal for debt collectors to HARASS consumers, LIE to consumers or utilize UNFAIR practices when they collect debts.
What are the specific restrictions?
Can’t Harass. This means collectors cannot do things such as:
- Threaten a consumer with any form of violence or bodily harm
- Speak to consumers using profane or obscene language
- Repeatedly contact consumers on the phone to annoy, bother or harass
Can’t lie. For example, a collector should not:
- Exaggerate or misrepresent the amount you owe
- Pretend or lie about being attorneys or government representatives
- Claim legal action will be taken if it is not true
Can’t use Unfair Practices:
- Attempt to charge you added fees on top of the amount owed, unless it is allowed by contract or state laws
- Make false threats about taking away your property unless it can be done legally (such as impounding a vehicle)
See link for more details. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs