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Protections offered by the FDCPA

Many people in Pennsylvania may be receiving calls from debt collection agencies if they have fallen behind on their payments. It might be beneficial for these individuals to know that they are protected under federal law. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, limits the types of actions that a collector might take while pursuing an outstanding debt.

For example, the FDCPA limits how often and where a collector might try to contact a debtor. All calls regarding debt collection must be placed after 8 a.m. and before 9 p.m. Collectors are also not allowed to contact a person at work about the debt if the debtor has made such a request. That request can either be made orally or in writing. Collectors are also barred from discussing a person's debt with other individuals. While the agency is allowed to seek information about the debtor from other people, it is not allowed to discuss the details of the debt.

Collection agencies must also provide some information regarding the debt to the person from whom they are seeking payment. After first contact, the agency must send a notice regarding the amount owed within five days. Furthermore, this notice must include the name of the original entity that offered the loan and information outlining how to dispute the loan if the consumer believes that the collection agency is mistaken.

Despite these protections, the FDCPA may not provide relief from debts. However, a person who is unable to keep up with payments on outstanding balances may pursue bankruptcy protections. A discharge or reorganization of debts through bankruptcy may allow a consumer to reestablish themselves financially.

Source: FTC, "Debt Collection", November 19, 2014

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