The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was designed to protect consumers from hostile or fraudulent debt collectors. Many concerns have been raised that these regulations make it more difficult for debt collectors to obtain payments for legitimate debts, but there might be another aspect to consider.
Debt collection is a difficult business, and any regulations that appear to be “cracking down” on the industry will make it more difficult for some. However, the honest debt collectors who are attempting to collect legitimate debts are likely already following all of the FDCPA regulations simply because it is the right thing to do.
Let’s take a closer look at how many aspects of the FDCPA are already being followed by most legitimate debt collectors, whether they fall under the jurisdiction of the act or not.
Threats, Harassment & Offensive Language
One of the major points of the FDCPA is that it prohibits any type of threats, harassment or offensive language. That means that it is against the law for a debt collector to threaten physical harm or financial hardship if a debtor does not make a payment. It is also illegal to harass a debtor by calling them names or using profane language or racial slurs.
The thing to keep in mind when it comes to threats, harassment and offensive language is that most respectable people don’t need a law to tell them that this type of conduct is out of line. It’s common sense, and anyone running a successful business in any industry already knows this.
The FDCPA also makes it illegal for a commercial debt collector to misrepresent themselves as a police officer or an agent of the court. They are required to identify themselves and the reason for their call.
Once again, anyone who is running a legitimate debt collection business is already aware that misrepresenting themselves will not produce long-term results that they can be proud of.
Debt collectors are also prohibited from discussing a debtor’s situation with anyone other than the debtor as a result of the FDCPA.
Of course, if you want to get someone to pay you, sharing the details of their situation with their friends and family is probably not going to encourage them to treat you with respect. That is why respectable debt collectors already know not to discuss a debtor’s situation with anyone besides the debtor.
Another regulation from the FDCPA is that a debt collector must respect a debtor who asks them to stop calling. This is another situation where legitimate debt collectors don’t need a regulation to tell them the best business strategy.
If you are dealing with a debtor who refuses to speak to you on the phone and actually asks you to stop calling them, your only option is to move on to the next course of action. That next step might be formal written notification of the debt or even filing a lawsuit, but no legitimate debt collector would continue calling a debtor unless it was producing results.
Disputing a Debt
The FDCPA also gives the debtor the right to dispute a debt, requiring the debt collector to stop calling about the debt until it resolves the dispute. Once again, this regulation is irrelevant to most legitimate debt collectors because they would already have proof of the debt and all of the details surrounding it in hand before making the first collection call.
As you can see, the FDCPA regulations do a great job of regulating the debt collectors who resort to underhanded tactics. However, none of these regulations should be an issue for legitimate debt collectors, because they would have been following them all along anyways.