- What is consumer defense?
- What is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
- What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
- What is an adversary proceeding?
- Can debt collectors contact my employer?
- Can debt collectors contact me if I have an attorney?
- What are debt collectors prohibited from doing when they call me?
- How can I get inaccurate information removed from my credit report?
Consumer defense is a broad category that encompasses many areas of law. In general, it is the field of law devoted to protecting the rights of consumers and preventing abusive behavior by creditors.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1978. It prohibits debt collectors from engaging in deceptive, unfair, and misleading conduct. It also prohibits debt collectors from communicating with anyone other than the debtor. The FDCPA does not apply to all collection activity. For instance, if Capital One is collecting a debt in its own name, it is not subject to the FDCPA's provisions. However, if ABC Collection Services is collecting a debt on behalf of Capital One, ABC would be subject to the FDCPA.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1970. It is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and also provides for private lawsuits to be brought by individual consumers. The FCRA governs the conduct of credit reporting bureaus (e.g. Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) and the process for disputing inaccurate or false entries on an individual consumer's credit report. The FCRA also regulates the ways in which consumer credit reports may be used and disclosed.
An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit that takes place within an existing bankruptcy case. Most adversary proceedings involve violations of the automatic stay and the bankruptcy discharge. Consumers seeking protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code can.
Debt collectors are prohibited from discussing your debts with unauthorized third parties. Debt collectors can call you at work, but they cannot identify themselves as debt collectors to anyone but you. If a debt collector calls your employer and states that he is calling to collect a debt that you owe, or identifies himself as a debt collector when asking to speak with you, that debt collector has violated the FDCPA.
If you or your attorney notifies a debt collector your attorney is the sole contact for that debt collector, then the debt collector is prohibited from making further contact with you. If the debt collector continues to call you, that is a violation of the FDCPA.
Debt collectors cannot threaten you or use profane language. Debt collectors are not allowed to say things like, "I'll have you arrested if you don't pay this debt," because they cannot threaten you with consequences that aren't remotely possible. Debt collectors must identify themselves as debt collectors when they contact you.
In order to remove inaccurate information from your credit report, you must first contact the credit reporting bureau. It is always better to send physical mail to the bureau. This is because it is easier to prove that you disputed the inaccurate entry. You should also include supporting documents that demonstrate how the entry is inaccurate. The FCRA requires credit reporting bureaus to fully investigate all disputes. If a creditor continues to report inaccurate information, you may have a claim against that creditor.