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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a United States federal law that limits the behavior and actions of third-party debt collectors who are attempting to collect debts on behalf of another person or entity.

The FDCPA was passed in 1977 as part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Its purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, promote fair debt collection, and provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information to ensure the information's accuracy. The Act creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the Act.

Key provisions of the FDCPA include:

  • Prohibiting Communication at Inconvenient Times or Places: Debt collectors may not contact a debtor at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless agreed to by the consumer.
  • Harassment or Abuse: The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using abusive or harassing tactics, including threats of violence, use of obscene language, and repeated phone calls intended to annoy or harass.
  • False or Misleading Representations: Collectors are not allowed to use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation in connection with the collection of a debt, including misrepresenting the amount owed or the legal status of a debt.
  • Debt Validation: Upon request, a debt collector must provide a consumer with verification of the debt being collected, including information about the original creditor and the amount owed.
  • Prohibiting Unfair Practices: The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or unconscionable means to collect a debt, such as collecting any amount not authorized by the agreement or using postdated checks in a deceptive manner.

Violations of the FDCPA can result in legal consequences for debt collectors, including damages to the consumer, attorney's fees, and potential regulatory action. Consumers have the right to sue a debt collector who has violated the FDCPA within one year from the date of the violation.

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