It starts with a letter from an original creditor asking you to take care of an outstanding debt. Weeks pass before you receive another letter, this one coming from a debt collection agency.
As more weeks pass, the letters from the third party debt collector become much bolder in the demands that you pay off the debt. The tension mounts after the bill collector calls you at home, and then proceeds to embarrass you by placing phone calls to you in the workplace.
Eventually, the phone calls include threats and the use of profanity.
Fortunately, you have a legal remedy the United States Congress wrote into law back in 1977. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a debt collection agency is prohibited from engaging in dozens of previously acceptable debt collection practices.
The FDCPA evened the legal playing field between consumers and third party debt collectors by outlawing harassment and aggressive debt collection techniques. In addition, the FDCPA gives consumers the right to file civil lawsuits against bill collectors that seek monetary damages.
Ohio and FDCPA Laws
For decades leading up to the passage of the FDCPA, American consumers clamored for a bill of rights that would protect them against unethical third party debt collectors. The FDCPA finally accomplished that goal by covering every American consumer living in each of the 50 states.
Federal lawmakers encouraged states to enact FDCPA laws to fill in any legal holes left open by the federal consumer protection law. One legal hole is called the statute of limitations, which is six years in Ohio for the pursuit of delinquent consumer debts.
In Ohio, the statute of limitations for debt collection efforts begins on the last day a consumer made a payment on an outstanding credit card or personal loan balance.
Protections Granted by the FDCPA and State Collection Laws
Aggressive debt collection practices outlawed by the FDCPA include making threats to come after consumers physically. Although extortion rackets have long gone underground, it is not out of the question for a debt collections agency to issue a physical threat.
Third party debt collectors are not permitted to issue threats to seize private property, as well as implement deceptive debt collection techniques that trick consumers into handing over money for delinquent debts.
You should never allow a bill collector to contact third parties in attempt to shame you into settling a debt.
Ohio is considered a one party consent state, which means only one person needs to give permission for a phone call to be recorded. This is an important law, as it allows you to tape record a phone call with a bill collector to prove the company violated one or more provisions of the FDCPA.
Ohio FDCPA laws prohibited debt collection agency phone calls made to locations state law considers “inconvenient.” If you have informed a third party debt collector that you have hired legal representation, Ohio FDCPA laws forbid the bill collector from calling you at home or at work.
Ohio FDCPA laws also ban a bill collectors from calling a consumer after they learn about the inability of a consumer to pay off a delinquent debt.
If you believe that a debt collector is violating Ohio’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.