The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a United States statute enacted in 1978, seeks to eliminate abusive and harassing behaviors that debt and collection agencies often engage in. The FDCPA states specific practices and rules under which debt collectors can and can not operate, and offer specific penalties for agencies found breaking this law.
Collection agencies may not communicate with a debtor during an inconvenient time or place. The FDCPA states that only appropriate times to contact the debtor are between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Additionally, the collection agency cannot communicate with anyone other than the debtor. If a debtor has legal representation, the collection agency cannot directly contact him or her directly.
A debt collection agency is forbidden to harass a debtor. This includes threatening violence or any other criminal action that could harm the consumer’s body, property, or reputation. In addition, agencies may not use offensive or crude language, or report a debtor to anyone other than credit bureaus or the court system.