Debt Collectors Beware Big Brother Is Watching You

  CFPB to begin monitoring for violations of the FDCPA by collection agencies over telephone

In helping clients with the credit repair process, we are repeatedly made aware of the intimidation factors that debt collectors and collection agencies use in order to collect on allegedly owed debts of consumers.

One of the most important tools of the debt collector is the telephone. It is also one of the most abused tools as well.

The process of collections is regulated mainly through the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) which places limits on what collection agents may say and what tactics they may use. 

Beginning this month, January 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will begin to aggressively monitor this behavior.  A recent press release from SBWire:

According to The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), section 15 U.S.C. 1692d (5): “Causing a person’s telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversations repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass” is prohibited. But as many consumers know, some debt collectors openly disregard these Federal protections.

“Twenty, 50 or sometimes even hundreds of times — we’ve seen cases where customers get harassing phone calls from agencies that attempt to hide their identity.” said Mark McCoy, CEO of Reverd.com, an online reverse phone lookup service.“ This makes the harassment worse, when you can’t figure out who or what the collection is about.”

Established by Congress to protect consumers by carrying out Federal consumer financial laws, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is set to begin monitoring collection agency activity more closely next month.

Among the many CFPB mandates, examiners will be looking to determine whether debt collectors place telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of identity or communicate with consumers during unusual times or at times known to be inconvenient. Monitoring activities will include listening to samples of voice recordings and telephone communications with consumers.

“This is huge,” said McCoy. “[Debt collection] agencies already know that placing calls between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in the consumer’s local time is inconvenient and intimidating. Now there’s a watchdog to monitor these types of abuses.”

This is obviously great news for the millions of Americans who have an alleged debt that is being aggressively pursued by one of the thousands of collection agencies, and is being harassed in violation of the FDCPA.

In addition to the monitoring of these types of calls and techniques by the CFPB, the FDCPA also allows consumers who feel that they have been a victim of an overzealous debt collector who has violated the act with statutory legal relief. For each violation that can be proven in court there is a statutory penalty of $1000 per occurrence.

Have you been harassed by a debt collector on the telephone? Tell us your experience in the comments below.

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About Anthony Candella

Anthony is the founder and Directing Attorney of YourCreditAttorney.com and has been helping consumers just like you understand and improve your credit and financial situation since 2003.