Debt collection agencies receive authorization from original creditors to pursue the collection of outstanding consumer debts. According to several federal consumer protection laws, third party debt collectors are limited in the actions they can legally take to settle delinquent credit card and personal loan accounts.
Both the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibit deception, harassment and aggressive debt collection behavior. However, it is the FDCPA that contains the most powerful legal language that protects consumers.
Enacted by the United States Congress in 1977, the FDCPA makes it illegal for bill collectors to engage in dozens of practices. Some of the practices prohibited by the FDCPA include impersonating law enforcement agencies and using profanity to coerce consumers into taking care of debts.
In addition to numerous prohibitions, the FDCPA also grants consumers the right to file civil lawsuits that seek monetary damages for one or more violations of the groundbreaking consumer protection law. Statutory damages up to $1,000 cover every violation of the FDCPA.
FDCPA Laws in Oklahoma
The main intent of the FDCPA was to cover the entire nation with consumer protections. This means the good people of Oklahoma enjoy the same legal protections under the FDCPA that the residents of Utah enjoy. Most of the 50 states have passed their own FDCPA laws, many of which confirm the illegality of the acts mentioned in the federal FDCPA.
Some states have strengthened the federal FDCPA by outlawing addition debt collection practices. Like every other state, Oklahoma has expanded the power of the federal FDCPA by establishing a statute of limitations for debt collections at five years for written contracts and three years for oral contracts.
The statute of limitations in Oklahoma for debt collections starts on the last day a payment was made on the delinquent consumer account.
How are You Protected by the FDCPA and Oklahoma Collection Laws?
According to the FDCPA, a bill collector is prohibited from pursuing an outstanding debt that has expired. You do not have to tolerate a debt collection agency asking for more money than the amount of money owed on a credit card or personal loan balance.
Third party debt collectors cannot put names on bad debt lists in attempts to embarrass American consumers that have fallen on hard times. Perhaps the most important restrictions mandated by the FDCPA involve phone conversations.
Both the federal FDCPA and Oklahoma collection laws permit bill collectors to call consumers at home and on their cell phones between 8 am and 9 pm. Because Oklahoma is a one party consent state, you can tape record a phone call with a debt collection agency and create a time stamp that proves the third party debt collector called you in the middle of the night.
In Oklahoma, if a bill collector cannot prove a debt exists, the company cannot contact you in any way in an attempt to collect on the alleged debt. Third party debt collectors must also give consumers 30 days to dispute the validity of new debt collection accounts.
If you believe that a debt collector is violating Oklahoma’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.