Enacted by the United States Congress in 1977, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) dramatically changed the way debt collectors pursued outstanding consumer financial obligations. The FDCPA clearly prohibits debt collectors from using abusive language and making threats to force consumers to pay off delinquent debts.
Debt collectors also must not implement deceptive practices to trick consumers into paying debts. The FDCPA does a great job of protecting borrowers, but how does the federal law protect individuals who receive phone calls about someone else’s debt?
The FDCPA and Someone Else’s Debt
Like most federal laws, the FDCPA has received several makeovers to account for new issues that impact consumers. One of the issues not addressed by the original FDCPA concerns debt collectors calling people in attempts to collect debts owed by other consumers.
New legal provisions clearly mandate debt collectors must stop calling people that have nothing to do with original debts. After making the first wrong call, debt collectors must refrain from making subsequent phone calls.
The FDCPA language is found under statute 15 U.S.C. § 1692b(3), which states a debt collector must “not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information.”
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors must identify themselves immediately after a third party answers the phone. The FDCPA provides legal remedies for third parties that continue to receive phone calls from debt collectors trying to collect someone else’s debt.
What You Should Do
When a debt collector contacts you for the first time concerning the collection of someone else’s debt, you should calmly explain to the debt collector you want him or her to stop contacting you. You can be a relative or simply a friend of the consumer that owes the debt.
You also might be a neighbor down the street or living at the same apartment complex. Make sure to take notes about the first call, as well as subsequent calls that violate the FDCPA. Obtain the name of the debt collector and the agency the debt collector represents.
Save every text message from the debt collector to have the evidence an attorney needs to move forward with litigation.
Sometimes, it takes only a phone call from your attorney to get a debt collector to stop trying to collect someone else’s debt. However, some debt collectors have no regard for the FDCPA, which means you should consider hiring a licensed attorney to initiate a lawsuit.
The FDCPA stipulates violations of the federal law can lead to the awarding of statutory damages not exceeding $1,000, as well as actual damages that have no monetary limit. Actual damages include the pain and suffering cause by physical and/or emotional distress.