After months of receiving letters and phone calls from a credit card company, the communication unexpectedly stops. You think you are clear of the outstanding credit card or personal loan balance.
After a few weeks pass, you begin to receive phone calls from a debt collection agency, and the representative on the other end of the line is adamant about you taking care of the delinquent debt.
In fact, the third party debt collector begins a pattern of harassment that leaves you feeling backed into a financial corner. Do you have a way out? According to a consumer protection law, you do not have to take abuse from a bill collector.
Passed by the United States Congress in 1977, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) contains clear language that forbids a large number of debt collection agency practices.
The FDCPA also includes punitive provisions, such as allowing consumers to file claims against debt collection agencies that seek monetary damages for pain and suffering.
Iowa FDCPA Laws
Congress pushed the FDCPA into federal law to provide protections for every American consumer. A consumer that deals with aggressive debt collection tactics in St. Paul, Minnesota enjoys the same legal protections a consumer living in Phoenix, Arizona enjoys.
Despite the powerful protections written into the FDCPA, each of the 50 states have enacted FDCPA laws to bolster the strength of the federal consumer protection law. One of the most common parts of state FDCPA laws involves the statute of limitations for collecting delinquent consumer debts.
In The Hawkeye State, original creditors and third party debt collectors have five years to pursue outstanding debts created by unwritten contracts and 10 years to initiate debt collection efforts for delinquent debts formed by written contracts.
Types of Harassment Prohibited by the FDCPA and Iowa Collection Laws
Debt collection agencies love to instill fear and anxiety into consumers that fall behind on paying monthly bills. One of the most effective strategies for coercing consumers into paying off debts is to call repeatedly throughout the day.
However, the FDCPA forbids bill collectors from repeatedly calling consumers at home and on their cell phones. Debt collection agencies are also restricted to calling consumers between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.
If a debt collection agency tries to make you pay more than what you owe on a credit card or personal loan account, you have the right to work with a licensed FDCPA lawyer to determine if you have enough evidence to file a claim.
Iowa’s FDCPA prohibits most of the tactics listed in the federal FDCPA. Yet, Iowa does not require debt collection agencies to send you a verification letter that gives you the chance to dispute an alleged debt.
Iowa FDCPA laws do not include language that requires bill collectors to stop contacting consumers after receiving a cease and desist letter. Both state and federal FDCPA laws include a provision banning phone calls made to consumers in the workplace, if a debt collection agency has “reason to know” the phone calls are not allowed by an employer.
If you believe that a debt collector is violating Iowa’s FDCPA laws, you should seek the help of an FDCPA attorney. You may be able to seek up to $1,000 in damages for each violation of the FDCPA. An attorney will be able to help navigate you through the entire process.