It can be expensive to violate the rights of debtors!

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Federal Trade Commission is there to protect consumers.  Recently one of the country’s largest debt collectors agreed to pay a record $1 million civil penalty to settle charges of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  Nationwide Credit, Inc., of Atlanta, Georgia, has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty, the largest amount ever in a debt collection case.  According to the FTC, Nationwide’s debt collectors harassed consumers, made false and misleading representations, failed to send required validation notices, failed to verify debts when requested to do so by consumers, and made impermissible third party contacts regarding consumers’ debts.

The settlement includes a comprehensive consumer complaint and resolution program which was developed by Nationwide’s new management and owners.  “Under the new program, every consumer complaint about collection practices must be thoroughly investigated and responded to – I expect the new program to set the standard for handling consumer complaints in the debt collection industry,” said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits abusive, deceptive and unfair debt collection practices.  For example, debt collectors cannot make false statements, threaten to take legal action they know they cannot or do not intend to take, use profanities or obscenities, call consumers at work if they know it is inconvenient or that such calls are not allowed by the employer, or call consumers at other times they know to be inconvenient to the consumer – such as before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.

Remember that you do have rights.  If someone is violating those rights when they contact you to collect a debt you can report them to the FTC.  Their website is:  http://www.ftc.gov.  You can also write to them at the FTC’s Consumer Response
Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.  20580.  Their phone number is:  (202) 382-4357.  Make sure you have the date and time, person’s name, and specific violation when you contact the FTC to report the situation.

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