What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a law enacted in 1978 that oversees the practice of the way a debt is collected, explains Rocket Lawyer. It generally only applies to third-party debt collectors, but in some states, the law also applies to the original creditor.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was set up largely to protect debtors and consumers from dishonest debt collectors. The provisions in the act are fair, covering issues such as when a debt collector can contact a debtor, and preventing the debt collector from misrepresenting the debt or themselves, notes Rocket Lawyer.

Under the act, a debt collection agency must identify itself when calling, alerting the debtor that it is a collection agency and that information obtained is used to collect the debt. The debt collector must also advise the debtor he has a right to dispute the claim, and if the debtor asks for proof of the debt, the debt collector must provide verification before it proceeds in the debt collection process, states Rocket Lawyer.

A debt collector cannot harass the debtor, call him before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., use vulgar and abusive language, or misrepresent the debt amount, states Rocket Lawyer. If the debtor has retained an attorney, the debt collector must cease communications with the debtor.