Some debt-collecting is done fraudulently from the start. If only the collection agencies calling during dinner time were considered fraudulent.
In the vein of trying to protect consumers from faulty practices, Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in 1978 in order to help regulate debt collection processes. As with most acts of Congress, this act has many ins and outs.
The act prohibits many key activities for collection agencies. First and foremost is that agencies are not allowed to call consumers before 8 am or after 9 pm. Additionally, if these consumers submit a written request to have the collection calls stop, the agencies must cease and desist. We all know collection agencies annoy us, but it is not usually on purpose. Perhaps I am giving the agencies the benefit of the doubt, but under this act, the companies are not allowed to harass a consumer with the intention of annoying him or her. Collection agencies are also prohibited from threatening consumers with legal action, posing as attorneys, and using false information to scare consumers to pay their debts.
Not only does the act prohibit certain actions of the collection agencies, it also requires others. For example, the act requires collection agencies to identify themselves properly when communicating with consumers. The act also requires collection agencies to make several communicative measures with consumers to increase transparency and make it easier for consumers to pay off their debts, like properly communicating how much is owed, proper ways of payment, due dates, and how to dispute the debt. In this way, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1978 levels the playing field in terms of agency-consumer relations, and gives the consumer more rights so he or she cannot be taken advantage of by fraudulent debt-collection practices.
However, no act of Congress is without criticisms. Certain consumer groups have complained that the act does not pervade fraud enough, and that the federal government has not done its job to enforce the rules outlined in the act. These groups believe the act should have addressed other issues of fraudulent debt-collection and also be enforced properly. Credit card companies also point out that many consumers have used the act as an excuse to file frivolous law suits.
No matter the side of the argument, it goes without saying that many consumers felt unfairly targeted. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act seeks to protect these consumers so relationships between debtors and collectors can become more level and civil.