The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from the scurrilous practices of some debt collection agencies who may well stoop to deceptive tactics to recover debt. Thus collections activity must be conducted in compliance with the law. Collectors may not misrepresent themselves, nor the debt they are recovering or the consequences to the consumer of not paying the debt.
Collection agencies sometimes like to give themselves a semblance of power which they really do not actually possess. They may not like the consumer to know that they have no legal authority to draw attention to legal actions which may result in the consumer’s non payment of debt, unless the agencies specifically intend to follow the legal route to such a conclusion.
Thus if a collection agency intends to take legal action to recover the debt they can advise that such an action may result in an attachment of earnings or a garnishee order on the consumers bank account. However if they have no intention of actually taking that legal action then they are not allowed to say that such measures may result.
Often agencies will say they intend to take action they do not intend to take as actually taking it can be time consuming, expensive and fruitless. The threat of doing so is often enough to make some consumers react and agencies may not want consumers to know that such a threat without following it up is in breach of the Act.
Consumers should be aware that agencies are not allowed to threaten them that non payment of debt will result in arrest or imprisonment, though this is an often popular tactic to scare consumers. Debtors prisons no longer exist.
Collections activity often focuses on trying to make telephone contact with the consumer and auto dialler systems became popular with agencies. However agencies are not allowed to continually ring a consumer’s telephone in case the consumer deems it an annoying intrusion.
The Act is worded so that the agents are not allowed to cause a telephone to ring continuously, thus protecting the consumer from irritating automated dialler systems which the agent may not be aware are ringing the consumer repeatedly. Thus an agency is held responsible for controlling an automated dialler which may be unwittingly pursuing a consumer to distraction.
One thing which agencies definitely don’t want consumers to know is that they have the right to ask the agencies to cease making contact with them, as once this is known the agency has lost their main collection tool. Contacting consumers at inconvenient hours is also disallowed.
Consumers can find out all their rights by perusing a copy the Fair Credit Debt Collections Practices Act whilst at the same time discovering the full range of constraints which the Act subjects the collection agencies to. Agencies may not want consumers to know their rights but a copy of the Act is available to anyone online. Thus consumers are able to determine if their rights are being breached under the terms of the Act by collection agencies.