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A brief summary of federal unfair debt collection law

When consumers do not fulfill their legal and moral responsibility to pay money that they are obligated to pay, an Indiana debt collector may contact them to discuss their responsibility to pay. Debt collectors are not allowed to use any means necessary to collect a debt, however. Debt collectors must abide by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act while they are doing their work. This blog post will provide some basic information about this federal law.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act covers certain kinds of personal, family and household debt incurred by consumers. Debt collectors are allowed to contact consumers by telephone, letter, text message or email to collect a debt. They must disclose that they are debt collectors, and they are not allowed to engage in certain practices deemed to be unfair by the federal government. They may not threaten violence, use obscene or profane language or use the phone to annoy someone.

Debt collectors are also not allowed to make certain kinds of representations. They may not say that a consumer will be arrested if they do not pay a debt. They may not say falsely that a consumer has committed a crime. They also may not say that they will take certain legal actions if they have no intention of actually taking them. There are other things not included here that debt collectors may not say as well.

If a consumer proves that a debt collector has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the consumer may be able to recover big damages from the collector even if the consumer incurred no actual damages. On the other hand, an angry consumer may make false allegations of unfair debt collection or even fraud against a debt collector. Debt collectors facing allegations of unfair debt collection or fraud have the option of discussing their situation with a white collar defense lawyer.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, "Debt Collection," accessed on April 16, 2017

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