Constant contact from debt collectors can be frustrating or even frightening to people in New York. Because of abusive practices collectors have utilized, their actions are regulated by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, a federal law that prohibits certain abusive practices and outlines what collectors may and may not do.
The FDCPA allows third party collectors to contact debtors by telephone, mail and fax. If they are notified in writing by the person who owes the debt that the debtor no longer wants any contact, they must cease communication. After receiving such a letter, collectors may then send a letter indicating they will make no further communication attempts. The only other contact they may make after that is to send a notice of their intent to file a lawsuit if they intend to do so.
Collectors are prohibited from contacting debtors early in the morning or late at night. They may not use abusive language, threaten criminal action or threaten to do anything they do not intend to do. In addition, they may not discuss a person’s debt with third parties, although they may contact them for the sole purpose of gaining contact information for the debtor. Despite the prohibitions, many debt collectors still utilize abusive practices in flagrant violation of the law. In such cases, debtors are allowed to sue abusive debt collectors. If the collectors are found in violation, they may be ordered to pay damages, face fines and have to pay the debtor’s attorney’s fees.
Even if a collector’s communication is stopped, it may still sue a debtor in order to obtain a judgment. In order to prevent this from occurring, debtors may want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition, all further collection activities and communication are required to cease.
Source: Federal Trade Commission, “Debt Collection“, December 29, 2014