Pro Bono Attorneys Deskbook
Questions & Answers About
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
15 USC Sections 1692 to 1692
Note: The document below is an informational handout prepared by
the Consumer Credit Division of the Missouri Division of Finance. It
outlines the protections afforded by the FDCPA to consumers in debt who
are having to deal with debt collectors. You can download the printable
version by clicking the button below.
The Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act is a federal statute that curtails unfair,
abusive, or outrageous practices and tactics by collection agencies.
Q: What Debts are
Personal, family, and
household debts are covered under the Act. This includes, among other
things, money owed for the purchase of an automobile, for medical care,
or for charge accounts.
Q: Who is a Debt
A debt collector is any person,
other than the creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to
A creditor who, collecting from
his/her own debtors, uses a name other than his/her own.
An attorney who
collects debts on a regular basis.
Not all debt collectors
are subject to the Act. It does not apply to banks, other lenders, or
businesses that collect their own accounts using their own names, nor
does it cover them when they collect an isolated debt for another.
Q: How May a Debt
Collector Contact You?
A debt collector may
contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or FAX. A collector
may NOT contact a debtor:
before 8 a.m. or
after 9 p.m.;
at inconvenient or unreasonable
at a place of employment if it is
known the employer prohibits such contact;
attorney is known to represent the debtor, the attorney should be
Can You Stop a Debt Collector From Contacting You?
You may stop a collector
from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling
them to cease all communications with you. The letter should be sent by
certified mail with a return receipt requested. Remember to keep a copy
of the letter.
Once the agency receives
your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be
no further contact. Another exception is that the agency may notify you
if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific
action. Ceasing contact does not preclude a lawsuit.
Q: May a Debt
Collector Contact Any Other Person Concerning Your Debt?
A debt collector may contact a person
other than the debtor only to discover or verify the debtorís location.
The collector must:
himself but he must identify his employer only if expressly
requested to do so;
not reveal the consumerís
indebtedness to anyone other than the debtor or his/her attorney;
not use a post card or in any way
reveal debt collection activity.
Validating the Debt
Within five days after
contacting a debtor about paying a debt, the collector must send a
written notice that includes:
the name of the creditor and the
amount of debt;
that the debt will be assumed to be
valid unless disputed within 30 days. If disputed, the collector
will verify it and send a copy of the verification or of a judgment
against the consumer.
During a period when a
debt is being verified, the collector may not attempt to obtain payment.
Practices That Are Prohibited
Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person; they may
use threats of violence or harm
against the person, property, or reputation;
publish a list of consumers who
refuse to pay their debts, except to a credit bureau or advertise
use obscene or
repeatedly use the
telephone to annoy someone
Debt collectors may not use any false statements when collecting a debt.
They may not:
use false, deceptive or misleading
representations as to their identity, such as falsely implying they
are attorneys or government representatives;
falsely imply that you have
committed a crime or state that you will be arrested if you do not
pay your debt;
misrepresent the amount of your
involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt;
papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not or
indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they
state that they will seize,
garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they or the
creditor intends to do so and it is legal to do so;
give false credit information about
you to anyone.
Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices such as:
collecting any amount greater than
your debt, unless allowed by law;
making you accept collect calls or
pay for telegrams;
depositing a post-dated check
Missouri Division of Finance
Consumer Credit Division
301 W. High Street, Room 630
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Steven M. Geary
Senior Counsel/Consumer Credit