FDCPA and Consumer Protection for Texas Debtors
In 1978, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) became law and provided protection to consumers from the abusive and harassing practices of collection agencies and professionals. The FDCPA created standards by which creditors could conduct business. It also provided measures to resolve disputes remedies for consumers subjected to unfair or illegal collections practices.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) monitors and enforces compliance with the FDCPA. In 2009, there were more than 88,000 FDCPT complaints concerning third-party debt collectors’ actions and more than 32,000 about in-house collectors’ practices. These numbers represent a marked increase in consumer complaints. As people face rough financial times, consumer complaints could continue to rise. However, the state of Texas has some solutions to offer.
For Texans, a number of organizations and agencies offer support. Among them are the Better Business Bureau, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Consumer Credit Commissioner’s Office. Texas has enacted laws that provide protection from creditor harassment. Courts enforce time limits on some debt collections. New programs such as debt negotiation and reduction afford consumers remedies from wage garnishment and property liens. Still, consumers report problems with unscrupulous collectors and creditors.
Complaints of Creditor Harassment Abound Throughout the U.S.
According to the FTC’s annual report, many of the FDCPA complaints were linked to debtor harassment. Almost half related to debtors being called continually, use of obscene or inappropriate language, calling at inappropriate hours and use of threatened use of violence against consumers if debts remained unpaid. In other complaints, collectors sought larger payments than those permitted by law, threatened criminal prosecution and incarceration, exposed consumers to risk of job loss and revealed debts to third parties with the intent to harass or intimidate consumers.
Creditors and collectors want to compel payments on consumer debts and often utilize court actions, arbitration or negotiated payment plans. Sometimes these efforts, when pressed by more aggressive individuals, run afoul of the law. Some consumers have reported that collectors ignored disputes on debts, while others posed as law enforcement officers to threaten them.
Aggrieved consumers have remedies available to them under the FDCPA and many state laws, such as the ability to file suit against debt collectors. However, many consumers might not be aware of their legal rights. Knowledge is powerful in times of economic downturns and can help some citizens survive tough financial times. For more information, contact an experienced Texas bankruptcy attorney.