Here's a checklist of debt collection behavior that violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Keep in mind that the FDCPA applies only to attempts to collect "consumer debt" - that is, debt incurred primarily for personal or household purposes. The FDCPA does not regulate the collection of commercial or business debt.
First a Disclaimer:
The FDCPA is a complex piece of legislation with numerous exceptions and qualifications. The following briefly summarizes selected provisions of the FDCPA. It is neither complete nor legally precise, and does not constitute legal advice. Rather, it is offered only to provide preliminary insight about selected provisions of the act.
Validation of Debts
Within 5 days of the initial communication with a consumer, the Debt Collector ["D/C"] must send written notice of:
> The amount of the debt
> The name of the Creditor
> Notice that if debt is not disputed in writing w/in 30 days, it will be presumed valid (Note: This is not a judicial determination that the debt is owed)
> Notice of right to request validation of debt in writing w/in 30 days
> Collection of debts timely disputed shall cease until D/C mails verification of debt to consumer
Communications with Third Parties
> Allowed only for the purpose of locating consumer
> D/C must ID self, state purpose is to locate consumer and ID employer if asked
> D/C must NOT reveal consumer owes a debt
> Only one such communication without further permission or belief that false information was given and accurate info is now available.
> No communication by post card
> May not reveal on envelope that letter is from D/C
Communications in Connection with Debt Collection
> Not at an inconvenient time or place.
[8 am-9pm in absence of special knowledge]
> Not with consumer if represented by Counsel
> Not at place of employment unless permitted
Ceasing Communication Required
> If consumer refuses in writing to pay
> If consumer requests in writing that communications cease
Harassment or Abuse
> Threats of harm to person or property
> Use of obscene or profane language
> Repeated calls with intent to annoy [including hangups]
> Calling without identifying caller.
False or Misleading Representations
A D/C may not misrepresent:
> That D/C is affiliated with government if untrue
> The amount, character or legal status of debt
> That the D/C is an attorney or the communication is from an attorney
> That non-payment will result in arrest or imprisonment
> Threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken
> Threat to take legal action D/C does not intend
> False claim that consumer has committed a crime
> Misrepresentation that documents are legal process
> Misrep. that legal documents are not legal documents
Other Unfair Practices
.> Depositing or threatening to deposit a postdated check prior to the date of the check
> Accepting a check postdated by more than 5 days without written disclosures