Debt Collection Violations and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

Christopher Brine
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Attorney at Law

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits debt collectors from engaging in collection efforts that are false, misleading, unfair, harassing, or abusive. Among other things, this means that a debt collector cannot falsely represent the status of a debt or threaten to take actions that it is not legally entitled to. Debt collectors also cannot repeatedly call you with the intent to harass or annoy you.

If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, then it must pay you actual damages, statutory damages of up to $1,000, and attorney’s fees. Because of this, you may not need to pay any out-of-pocket costs for representation from Brine Consumer Law. Phone consultations are also free, so call us today to discuss your situation.

Who Must Comply With the FDCPA?

It should be noted that the FDCPA is a federal law that only applies to “debt collectors,” which is a term of art. Generally speaking, a debt collector under the FDCPA is a third party attempting to collect a debt owed to somebody else (like a collection agency), or an entity that purchased debt already in default (like a debt buyer). Original creditors (like your credit card company) don’t usually fall under this definition.

However, Massachusetts also has its own rules similar to the FDCPA, which generally apply more broadly to also include original creditors. Specifically, Massachusetts prohibits all creditors from attempting to collect debts in any unfair, deceptive, or unreasonable manner.

The Massachusetts Attorney General and the Division of Banks have both issued regulations under this statute, which, for example, require that a creditor not call you more than two times in any seven-day period. Violations are considered an unfair/deceptive act under Massachusetts law.