The FDCPA was passed into law in 1978 in order to protect all consumers who have gotten into serious debt from abusive and coercive collection practices performed by 3rd party collection agencies. Nothing is more annoying and stressful for the consumer than receiving hounding letters and obnoxious phone calls whenever one of these 3rd party entities get involved in the collection process. Fortunately, there are 4 steps that you legally can take in order to halt these unfair collection practices.
Step #1: Catch that collection agency in the act of breaking the laws of the FDCPA and not following proper guidelines for collecting the debt that you owe – believe it or not, there are still numerous collection agencies that are still breaking the law where the FDCPA is concerned and whenever they can get away with it. You are allowed to file a complaint with either your state’s Attorney General and/or the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) if you feel you are being subjected to illegal collection activities. If this is currently happening, you may want to consider hiring the services of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to help you.
Step #2: Send a “Cease and desist” letter – this is probably the first thing that you should do once you have identified that the collection agency’s practices are in violation of the FDCPA. Sending this type of letter is considered to be the best method to employ for contesting “bogus” or incorrect debts (those debts belonging to another individual or those that debts that you have proof of having paid off). It’s also an excellent method to use for contesting collection activities applied to smaller debts.
Step #3: Request a “debt validation” – send the collection agency a certified letter (with return receipt requested) asking for a formal validation of the debt currently owed. Additionally, you want to make sure that they inform you who the original creditor was. What is critical with this step is that you do it within 30 days of your first contact with that particular collection agency. It is not unusual for a collection agency to send you a bogus verification. If you find out that this is the case, look at Step #1 above and proceed as recommended.
Step #4: Pay only pennies on the dollar to settle your debt – believe it or not, you can oftentimes settle for only pennies on the dollar like you can with the IRS, provided you can prove that the collection agency in question has violated the FDCPA. Just be aware of the fact that the decision to settle the debt depends on the debt collector’s attitude.
For over 25 years, Jonathan Ginsberg has represented honest, hardworking men and women facing financial troubles.
Latest posts by Jonathan Ginsberg (see all)
- Comedian John Oliver Exposes the Debt Buying Industry - June 10, 2016
- Debt Collectors in Indonesia Mean Business - August 17, 2011
- Collection Attorney Fred Hanna Successfully Defends an FDCPA Claim in Court - January 24, 2011