If you are in danger of having your debts turned over to a collection agency, it is important for you to know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Procedures Act (FDCPA). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the enforcement agency, takes violations of the act by debt collectors seriously, as is demonstrated by their recent settlement with Rincon Debt Management, a California company. Rincon violated the FDCPA by, among other things, claiming debtors could be arrested for the debt. Under the settlement:
- The owners of Rincon are permanently banned from debt collection
- The $3.3 million is in assets and will be distributed to victims
- The FTC imposed a $23 million judgment that the owners claim to be unable to pay, which is why the $3.3 million is in the form of assets. However, if it turns out their financial information was falsified, they will be required to pay the full $23 million.
Debt collectors have been known for using any number of repugnant tactics in violation of the FDCPA. It's good to know what debt collectors aren't allowed to do, in particular in terms of harassment or making false and misleading statements:
- threats or use of violence
- publication of names except to consumer reporting agencies
- calling and not disclosing the caller's identity
- Repeat phone calls with the intent to harass, annoy, or abuse
- falsely claiming to be an attorney
- implying that not paying will lead to arrest or imprisonment
- implying that wages can be garnished if there is no order allowing the collector to do so or the collector does not intend to garnish the wages.
Debt collectors' using unethical tactics to attempt to collect debts is nothing new, which is why it's so important to know your rights and contact us or another reputable firm if you believe you're being harassed by debt collectors in violation of the FDPA.