Before September 20, 1977, consumers were at the mercy of the aggressive tactics used by debt collection agencies. Motivated mostly by huge profits, third party debt collectors harassed consumers by issuing threats and using deception to collect outstanding debts.
In response to growing consumer anger, the United States Congress enacted a landmark law that many legal analysts consider to be the American consumer bill of rights.
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, bill collectors are limited in the tactics they can use to collect delinquent consumer debts. In addition to outlawing dozens of previously acceptable debt collection techniques, the FDCPA also grants consumers the right to seek monetary damages for suffering from physical and/or emotional distress.
The FDCPA allows consumers to seek up to $1,000 in statutory damages for one or more violations of the sweeping federal consumer protection law.
New Jersey’s Version of FDCPA Laws
The primary intent of Congress in passing the FDCPA was to create a comprehensive federal law that would protect every American consumer. In addition to the FDCPA, each of the 50 states has FDCPA laws that either mirror the federal law or include additional provisions strengthening consumer protections.
One of the common provisions found in state FDCPA laws pertains to the statute of limitations for collecting delinquent credit card and personal loan accounts. In New Jersey, bill collectors have six years to pursue the collection of consumer debts.
If your outstanding consumer debt is more than six years old, a debt collection agency can no longer contact you in an attempt to settle the debt.
Illegal Practices under the FDCPA and New Jersey Collection Laws
At the heart of the FDCPA is legal language that prohibits bill collector harassment. Some of the techniques used to harass consumers into paying off delinquent debts include threatening to seize private property and using foul language over the phone.
The FDCPA also bans the implementation of deceptive debt collection techniques, such as impersonating a law enforcement agency. Federal FDCPA law contains a provision that outlaws phone calls made by debt collection agencies to consumers after 9 pm and before 8 am.
The only question for New Jersey consumers is how do they prove a third party debt collector called them after the legally permitted period.
The answer to the question lies within New Jersey FDCPA laws. According to New Jersey FDCPA laws, only one participant in a phone conversation is needed to give permission to tape record the conversation.
This means if a third party debt collector calls you in the middle of the night, you can tape record the phone conversation because you are the only person needed to grant approval for taping the call.
A tape recorded phone calls will provide you with a time stamp that proves a bill collector violated the federal FDCPA. Other than the one party consent provisions, New Jersey FDCPA laws follow the federal FDCPA lead of prohibiting third party debt collectors from engaging in unfair debt collection practices.
If you believe that a debt collector is violating New Jersey’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.