Protection from Creditor Harassment: the FDCPA

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Creditor harassment can be a big problem for people thinking about bankruptcy. Debt collectors may harass or abuse someone, make false or misleading statements, or take other improper actions. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is one tool that people can use to protect themselves from this behavior.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal consumer protection law that protects individuals from abusive debt collectors. In general, the Act applies when a debt collector—that is, a third person trying to collect a debt owed to another—tries to collect a debt that a natural person incurred primarily for personal, family or household purposes.

A debt collector may violate the Act in many ways. A debt collector may not harass, oppress, or abuse a person. Examples include making excessive phone calls, using obscene language, or threatening violence. A debt collector also may not make false or misleading statements, such as misstating the amount of the debt or implying that the consumer committed a crime. Many other behaviors may also violate the Act.

If a debt collector violates the Act, a consumer may be entitled to statutory damages of $1000, actual out-of-pocket costs, and attorneys’ fees.

If you think a debt collector is violating the Act, start collecting information. Save all letters, e-mails, and other written communications, including the envelopes. Save all voicemails. Write down a log of each call you receive. Order your credit report from

You should also call a lawyer. You can reach an attorney at FactorLaw by calling 312-878-6976. This post is just a general overview of the Act. Whether the Act applies to your situation depends on several factors. There also may be other consumer-protection laws that apply. A lawyer will help you sort through your legal options for creditor harassment.