Are you dreading every time the phone rings worried it is an unkind voice advising you that they are calling to collect a debt you owe? Are you getting calls at work or are there threats of lawsuits against you for unpaid bills? Are you being threatened with having your paycheck garnished or is there a creditor disparaging you due to a past due amount? Do not despair, these are problems that many have had to endure and there are protections under the law to protect you.
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is a federal law that prohibits debt collectors from harassing, misleading or conducting themselves in a variety of unsavory behaviors to provide protection to debtors who owe money. Better yet, in California, the California/Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act extends this to “anyone” attempting to collect a debt which means that if a creditor is contacting you directly they are held to the same standards as professional debt collectors.
What are the prohibited behaviors?
- Harassment – This is defined by a collector acting in an overtly aggressive nature. Included would be any threats of harm or retribution, using profanity or other obscenities, or making high volumes of contact with the debtor (you) causing excessive annoyance.
- False Statements – This rule prohibits a debt collector from outright lying to you. This means they can’t identify themselves as an attorney (unless they are), or a credit bureau or reporting agency or that they represent a government agency and threaten that you’ve committed a crime. They also can’t misrepresent the amount you owe.
- Unfair Practices – This restricts a debt collector from behaving in an unfair manner toward you. Included are attempts to collect additional interest charges or fees in excess of what you actually owe or beyond that which the state’s laws permit. Collectors are also prohibited from making untrue threats such as seizing property without proper legal grounds to do so.
- Misleading Threats – It is not permitted for a debt collector to make threats pertaining to legal action that they don’t plan to pursue or are in fact aren’t permitted to pursue.
- Wage Garnishment – Only a court order can cause wage garnishment so if a debt collector is making this assertion toward you they are out of bounds with the law. You should also note that some sources of fund are exempt from garnishments and cannot be threatened.
- Misleading Correspondence – It is not allowed for a debt collector to either make false statements to you or about you. Debt collectors are not permitted to make a false statement, for example, to a credit agency. Similarly, they can’t send you documents that look to be an official court or government document or fabricate legal documents.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are behind in your financial life, we understand and want to help you. If you find yourself experiencing any of the above violations, get a lawyer to help you immediately.
Leiva Law Firm is here to help you with a team of dedicated and experienced attorneys that will help determine how to approach your case and get you the best outcome. contact our office online or call us today at (818) 703-1777 to get a case evaluation and protect your claim.