Concluding Borrowers’ Rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), here is some final essential information that borrowers should know when it comes to their rights and dealing with creditors.
FDCPA: More Prohibited Conduct for Creditors
In addition to not calling borrowers at weird hours, incessantly and at work, other things that third-party debt collectors are NOT allowed to do when it comes to communicating with borrowers about outstanding debt include NOT:
- Lying about the debt owed – At no point during their communications with borrowers are debt collectors legally permitted to lie about the debt and/or their identities. For example, debt collectors cannot present themselves as lawyers, they cannot lie about the amount of debt owed, they cannot attempt to seek amounts of money in addition to the specific debt owed, etc. Any misrepresentation of the debt or the identity of the debt collector is a violation of the FDCPA.
- Threaten borrowers or use profane language when speaking to them – Debt collectors are strictly prohibited from using any coercive tactics in their efforts to collect an outstanding debt. While this means that they cannot try to threaten borrowers by, for instance, saying that borrowers will be arrested if they don’t repay their debt, it also means that debt collectors can’t use any abusive or explicit language when talking to borrowers about the debt.
- Discussing the debt with third parties or publishing borrowers’ names on “bad debt” lists – Debt collectors are not legally allowed to discuss the nature of borrowers’ debts with anyone other than the borrower himself, the borrower’s spouse and/or the borrower’s attorney (if the borrower has one). Additionally, debt collectors cannot try to shame borrowers into payment of the debt by publishing their names on any type of “bad debt” list. In other words, borrowers have the right to expect that their financial matters will remain private.
FDCPA: Penalties for Debt Collectors Who Violate Borrowers’ Rights
Debt collectors who have violated any aspect of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act can be fined as much as $1,000 (plus a borrower’s attorneys’ fees), according to the provisions of the FDCPA. Additionally, some debt collectors may be ordered to pay further awards in the form of punitive damages (which can far exceed the statutory awards in these cases).
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