Why It's Important To Know Your Rights As A Consumer
Many people are unaware of their rights under the various federal consumer protection statutes. Even more are unaware that many of these statutes have a one-year statute of limitations for bringing a claim. This one-year period is crucial—consumers must timely pursue their claims or lose them entirely.
For example, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which regulates the conduct of debt collectors, has a one-year limitations period. It covers a broad range of conduct, which can make it difficult to know every last protection under the Act. To make things even more difficult, the contours of the Act and its protections change over time as federal courts interpret the statute. Unfortunately, being unaware that you have a claim does not give you a pass—you must timely file your claims to seek relief.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has published some very useful FAQs and informational web pages designed to explain some of your rights under the FDCPA and other federal consumer protection statutes. They are a valuable resource for all consumers, regardless of their legal savvy.
Here are a few things that the FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from doing:
- They cannot discuss your debt with anyone else.
- They cannot contact you if they know you are represented by an attorney.
- They cannot make false or misleading statements to collect a debt.
- They cannot engage in unfair practices to collect a debt.
- They cannot engage in harassment (such as excessive phone calls) to collect a debt.
- They cannot threaten you in an attempt to collect a debt.
- They cannot swear at you in an attempt to collect a debt.
- They cannot sue you in a jurisdiction that is different than the one in which you live or where you incurred the debt.
This is just a short list of some of the protections afforded to consumers by the FDCPA. Developing a lawsuit can take considerable amounts of time. Analyzing issues and determining whether a claim exists can be a lengthy process, in particular if the claim is in the grey-areas of the Act’s coverage. It is very important that consumers who believe that they have claims consult with counsel as soon as possible. A year goes by rather quickly.