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Yes, there are quite a few rules and regulations that govern collection agencies in this country. Specifically, they are regulated through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This federal statute sets out the acceptable practices of the collection industry, and the penalties for any infractions thereof.
The FDCPA is basically a list of regulations that dictate how a collection agency may collect on a debt. Whether that collection activity is in the form of a letter, a phone call, a voice mail, a text message, and other activity, all third-party collectors are subject to these provisions.
Most people are aware of the idea that a collector cannot overly harass you. For instance, they cannot call you several times a day, they cannot call you names, they cannot threaten you, etc. But these are fairly obvious examples of violations that may occur. At our firm, we are also looking for very subtle infractions that may not catch your eye.
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For example, the first letter you receive from a collector will by law provide you with short list of you rights (or at least it should). One of those rights is the so-called “validation period”. This is the first thirty (30) days after receiving the first notification of their collection activity. Specifically, this period is reserved so that you may dispute the validity of the debt itself (like if you do not believe that you owe the debt, or if you think the amount is incorrect). Many different kinds of violation can (and often will) occur during this period that probably go right over your head (but they are federal violations nonetheless).
There are two main things about the FDCPA that most people are interested in: 1) if a violation has in fact occurred, the law states that the collector has to pay you up to $1,000 in damages (which isn’t much, but it’s something); and 2) there is an attorney fee provision written into the statute, which basically means that any work your attorney might do looking into the collector’s activity is not charged to you; this is because the FDCPA says that if a violation has occurred, the collection agency has to pay any attorney fees.
The affordable St. Louis bankruptcy attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken have been saving and protecting people’s assets for years. Our goal is to make sure that you keep the assets and property you want, discharge the debts that you want to get rid of, and do it all at an affordable cost to you. All phone conversations and office consultations are free of charge.