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.

GET YOUR FREE CONSULTATION

superlawyers_badge

SEEWHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING

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
Brad Sadek is excellent!. He understands and he's fair. You feel like you have someone fighting for you. The staff is friendly, professional, and courteous. These guys are the best at what they do !
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.
See All Reviews Write a review
Call Us Now