The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees and regulates violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which is a law intended to protect consumers from potentially abusive and harassing behaviors of collectors out to collect a debt. Each year, the FTC issues a report to Congress regarding the types of FDCPA violations that consumers have filed against creditors, as well as the methods that the agency has used to enforce the law. In the 2012 FDCPA Annual Report, the following were the most common consumer complaints filed against creditors (in order of most common to less common):
- Harassment of the debtor by the collector – More than 40 percent of all reported FDCPA violations involved incessant phone calls in an attempt to harass the debtor. While about 14 percent of all FDCPA violation reports alleged that collectors used profane or abusive language when attempting to collect a debt, nearly 10 percent of these claims were related to creditors calling debtors between 9 P.M. and 8 A.M.
- Demands for monetary amounts that are not contractually legal – Nearly 40 percent of all reported FDCPA violations involved debt collectors who were trying to collect monetary amounts that were greater than the amount that the debtor actually owed. About 8 percent of these claims involved debt collectors allegedly demanding excessive, illegal interest, fees or other expenses.
- Failure to send the consumer a written notice of the debt – More than 26 percent of all reported FDCPA violations were related to debt collectors failing to send debtors a written notice of the debt, which should legally include the official name of the creditor, the amount of debt owed and a notification that the debtor has the right to dispute the debt in question.
If you believe that you have suffered from abusive creditor practices, the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have toll-free numbers, as well as online forms, through which consumers can file complaints. The FTC and CFPB take these complaints seriously and strongly encourage consumers to stand up for their rights and file any complaints they may have. Alternatively, if you want to make the collectors not only pay but pay you, give me a call or set an appointment at any one of our consumer law offices in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver or Salem. We would be more than happy to assess whether you have a claim under the FDCPA and help you enforce your rights.