Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

If you are behind on your debt repayments, there are protections under the law for you. Unfortunately, most individuals in debt are unaware of their options, but the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects debtors under the law from abusive debt collection practices.

Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited in a number of ways, including contacting consumers outside the hours of 8AM to 9PM local time, publishing a debtor’s name and address on a “bad debt” listing, and failing to cease communication upon receiving a written request to name a few. The FTC, or Federal Trade Commission, has the authority to enforce FDCPA laws.

The FDCPA requires debt collectors, like Goldman Schwartz, to identify themselves as debt collectors in every communication, notify the debtor of their right to dispute the debt, and provide verification of the debt, amongst other actions.

Recently, the FTC exercised that power by shutting down Goldman Schwartz, a debt collection agency based in Houston, Texas. According to the FTC, Goldman Schwartz has been accused of using false threats of arrest, failing to inform debtors of their legal rights to dispute debts, used profane language, and collecting bogus fees associated with the debt. The acts that Goldman Schwartz is accused of are considered prohibited conduct under the FDCPA and can be read about, in their entirety, here.

To enforce the FDCPA, the FTC allows aggrieved debtors who have been harassed illegally by debt collectors like Goldman Schwartz several options:  to file private lawsuits against the debt collector in state court for statutory damages, sue the creditor in small claims court, report the action to a government agency or state attorney general, and/or use the illegal actions as leverage in debt settlement negotiations.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of illegal debt collection practices you have rights under the law. Look for an attorney who specializes in debt settlement. Most attorneys offer free consultations, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.

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