What Philadelphia Residents Should Know About the FDCPA

What Philadelphia Residents Should Know About the FDCPA

As Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyers we meet many clients who are being harassed by their creditors day and night. Creditor harassment is a major reason why many clients contact us in the first place.

Bankruptcy can put an immediate stop to bad creditor behavior through the power of the automatic stay. However, it’s also a good idea to learn your rights under both the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Pennsylvania’s Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (the PFCEUA). Both acts grant you certain options if debt collectors engage in bad behavior in the hopes of pressuring you to pay a debt. In some cases, it can be a potent weapon for shutting down creditor harassment, giving you what you need to develop breathing room for figuring out what you want to do.

In theory, debt collectors would know the laws and play by the rules. In practice, many debt collectors feel these laws tie their hands too much. Many will risk skirting the law or even violating it in the hopes you’ll be intimidated into coughing up a payment. Many also are all too willing to count on your ignorance to shield them from the consequences of their actions.

The FDCPA

The federal statute controls the behavior of debt collectors in the following ways:

  • Collectors may only call between 8 am and 9 pm unless you agree to hear from them at other times.
  • Debt collectors must make it clear that the communication they are initiating is an attempt to collect a debt. The specific warning is laid down by law: “This is an attempt to collect a debt, and any information we receive can and will be used only for that purpose.”
  • Debt collectors must be honest about who they work for and why they are calling you. They may use a personal alias to protect their identity (debt collectors are regularly targets for violence), but they can’t lie about why they’re calling or where they’re from.
  • If you contact a debt collector in writing to tell them to stop contacting you they must comply. It’s not a bad idea to invoke the FDCPA in your letter so they know you’re aware of your rights.
  • You may also direct debt collectors to your attorney. If you do so, they must deal with your attorney from then on out.
  • Debt collectors may only contact third parties like family members, friends, and employers to verify your name, address, phone number and place of employment. They may not discuss the debt with any third party. They also may not do anything to expose the nature of your debt to third parties, which means they can’t publish information about your debt publicly, they can’t send information about your debt in a post card, and they may  not leave voice messages if they have reason to suggest a third party could hear the information.
  • Debt collectors may not cash post-dated checks early.

Debt collectors absolutely may not threaten you with violence, harm, imprisonment or public humiliation. They also may not use obscene language or call you repeatedly with the express intention of harassing and annoying you. They may not make any false statements at all, and they may not threaten to take any action they don’t intend to take, including actions they’re legally prohibited from taking in the first place.

They also cannot collect new interest charges or fees.

The Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act

The PFCEUA extends the protections of the federal statute, expanding it to give consumers even more protections and power to recover damages, costs, and attorney’s fees. The PFCEUA even allows consumers to sue the original creditor for the debt collector’s bad practices.

Understanding the Differences Between Creditors and Debt Collectors

When exercising your rights under either fair debt collection statute it is vital to understand the difference between a debt collector and a creditor, as these laws only cover your interactions with third-party debt collectors.

The creditor is the original transactor of the debt. If you owe Discover card $9000, then Discover is the creditor. The debt collector is a third party contracted to recover all or some of that amount. If you get a call from “Smith and Smith Collections,” for example, that firm is a third-party collection agency. Smith and Smith would be bound by the fair credit laws, but Discover would not be. Thus, Discover may indulge in many (but not all) of the practices Smith and Smith would have to avoid.

Thus, you should avoid invoking FDCPA or the PFCEUA when dealing with original creditors, as the strategy could backfire.

You have rights if a debt collector violates the law.

You could, for example, be entitled to damages. But you’ll need a competent lawyer on your side. Contact Sadek & Cooper today for your free consultation. We’ll be able to help you put together a winning strategy for dealing with your creditors, one that gives you your best chance at a fresh start.

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jammee burhannon
jammee burhannon
12:39 08 Aug 18
Sadek and Cooper was fast efficient and made me feel at ease when I felt discouraged about the wrong Choice’s I’ve made not knowing the facts about credit and how to use it the right way. I just Loved the credit Counseling courses that explains the do’s and don’t the want and needs and the ups and downs of credit which has now gave me more knowledge to understand how to use credit 🤓🤓 Thank you so much for helping me out of this Deep Hole and putting me on the road to Credit recovery 😘😊
Krystal Stewart
Krystal Stewart
14:22 18 Jul 18
Matt Lazarus and the rest of the firm were absolutely wonderful. They held my hand through the whole process of my bankruptcy and made sure I knew what was happening every step of the way. They worked with my schedule and location to make every step as easy and smooth as possible. If every I need any legal advice in the future, I know exactly who I'm going to!
Matthew Justice
Matthew Justice
07:11 16 Jul 18
Brad Sadek has no equal when it comes to Foreclosure defense and bankruptcy. He is knowledgeable about the whole thing. It actually gave me confidence during the case.
Landlord Guy
Landlord Guy
16:25 06 Jul 18
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13:20 20 Jun 18
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My experience with Sadek and Cooper was awesome. They were extremely helpful with answering all my questions and made me feel comfortable and less anxious about filing for bankruptcy. The process was smooth and quick and had no issues at all!Alicia
Selena Pinkney
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13:52 22 May 18
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Ethan Hew
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13:44 16 May 18
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Chris Jamison
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19:52 04 May 18
Matt Lazarus from the start was very helpful with making me filing for bankruptcy as easy as possible. It is one of the hardest things to go thru in life. But you have to look at it as a new start. Thank you again to everyone at Sadek & Cooper for all your help.
Thomas Wright
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15:09 24 Apr 18
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Kelly McKenna
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11:57 19 Apr 18
This form - specifically Yoninah Orenstein and Patrick Cooper are PHENOMENAL. They were great to work with, very fair with legal fees, and successful in getting an excellent settlement for my divorce (short term marriage
Dessiana Cruz
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13:11 04 Apr 18
I was nervous about bankruptcy, but from the moment I stepped in your office I felt at ease. This process was so easy with your help, that yesterday I was talking to my coworkers about it and recommending your firm to them. You make something that’s scary seem easy and I thank you so much for helping me!
Valerie Nesbitt
Valerie Nesbitt
14:51 03 Apr 18
Sadek and Cooper have been excellent. Everyone has been extremely helpful and patient. The lawyers I have worked with, Matt and Brad, are extremely knowledgeable. I felt very comfortable with them handling my case.
Marlena Lucas
Marlena Lucas
16:08 02 Apr 18
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James Smith Sr
James Smith Sr
13:19 14 Mar 18
Everything has been great. Really awesome job with my case... You and your staff have done a perfect job in my opinion.
Michkel Davis
Michkel Davis
17:02 09 Mar 18
Mr. Sadek was the best and most thorough lawyer I’ve ever met. He’s very human and caring about our case. His whole staff is great too. Highly recommend...
Tamika Richardson
Tamika Richardson
14:56 01 Mar 18
My bankruptcy went very smoothly with your firm. No issues. You are all very nice. That’s why I recommend my sister to your firm and your now helping her too! Thanks again.
Geraldine Ross
Geraldine Ross
14:14 28 Feb 18
This is an Excellent firm to work with; my questions were answered in a timely manner and I felt very supportive in handling my bankruptcy. I would highly recommend this firm to others who have found themselves in a position like mine.
Lavern Baker
Lavern Baker
17:03 23 Feb 18
You are all super lawyers. Brad and Matt made me feel comfortable. Every one in your office so nice and just made it easy. You’re the best!
peter b
peter b
19:42 21 Feb 18
Thank you, Sadek and Cooper Law offices for your dedication on my behalf. I appreciate Matthew and Patrick and your staff and all that everyone did to support me in this legal matter. You took an embarrassing, sad experience, for me, and turned it into a successful solution without all the emotional pain expected. After dealing with a loan modification company for over eighteen months without going to an attorney first that is the biggest mistake anyone can make. The Modification Companies set out to sell you lies, broken promises and dilute the homeowner's assets with no knowledge of any kind of law. I can't stress enough stay away from Modification companies, as a Military Veteran and family man, protect you or your family best interest. Go directly to Sadek and Copper you will not regret it! This firm moves with Super speed and diligence protecting you and your family's the entire process, even after watching some of these other attorneys in the courtroom appearing to mishandled their clients’ cases before the Trustee. You made it easy and I’m finally getting my financial life back on track! Thank you for your prompt replies to me, your clear information and preparation needed when at the courthouse. I would of course recommend you to others and I am glad you were the one who had my case. Kind genuine law firm who treats you like family. God bless you all and I pray for your continued success in your field of expertise. This firm is Super Lawyers for a reason. They are the best at what they do! Pete
Doug Tinlin
Doug Tinlin
06:55 15 Feb 18
Brad Sadek gave me hope when he decided to handle my mortgage for enclosure defense. I had exactly 10 days left of the 30 days ultimatum given me, but he was able to bargain for an extra 30 days for me to pay up. That duration turned out just right.
Jacinth Jacinth
Jacinth Jacinth
16:07 31 Jan 18
Excellent service. Brad and Matt were outstanding and friendly. They helped me through this. I’ve never met attorneys like these. Thank you!
julie njoku
julie njoku
12:29 24 Jan 18
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Owen Black
Owen Black
20:14 09 Jan 18
Thanks for the great service! I would recommend this firm highly. Throughout the years I have been helped by this firm greatly and very much appreciated.
Steven Rychalsky
Steven Rychalsky
15:30 09 Jan 18
Sadek and Cooper law office was a wonderful experience to work with. Bankruptcy is a difficult experience but they helped with the stress so much and made it easy. I would recommend Sadek and copper too anyone.
Chris Kourelias
Chris Kourelias
19:09 28 Dec 17
Working with both Brad & Matthew was a pleasure. Both gentlemen are extremely knowledgeable and helpful in providing me the right assistance needed to make the correct decision to benefit me in the long run. I would recommend both candidates to anyone looking for assistance with a reputable law firm.
Jennyfer Santana
Jennyfer Santana
21:17 21 Dec 17
Highly Recommended. Matt & Brad assisted with my case. I felt comfortable throughout the entire process. Matt was very understanding, patient, and ensured he answered all my questions! Both great guys and very friendly! It was a pleasure working with Matt and Brad.
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