Many, if not most, people considering bankruptcy have been contacted by debt collection agencies on accounts that have become past due. These contacts can range from a collection letter to frequent, abusive calls threatening arrest. Most people are aware that there are specific laws regulating the types of activities that are allowed when a debt collection agency is attempting to collect a debt, and some people may know types of activities that are prohibited, but many do not know their rights as a consumer.
While there are other important consumer protection laws, the two primary laws relevant to debt collection are the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Oregon Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Act. These Acts prohibit a relatively wide range of conduct, such as “a debt collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.” 15 USC §1692d. According to this section of the FDCPA, specific prohibitions include, but are not limited to:
(1) The use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.
(2) The use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader.
(3) The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency or to persons meeting the requirements of section 1681a (f) or 1681b (3)of this title.
(5) Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.
(6) Except as provided in section 1692b of this title, the placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.
Although this is a significant source of protection to consumers, the FDCPA and the UDCPA provide even more specifically prohibited conduct. We encourage potential and current clients to provide all information relating to debt collection to ensure they have not fallen victim to abusive and illegal conduct. While our primary focus is helping clients with filing bankruptcy, we also protect and enforce the rights of consumers in other areas of law, including debt collection. To schedule a free consultation to file bankruptcy and/or find out whether you have a claim for debt collection violations, call 503-352-3690.