Bankruptcy Law, Debt Collection

Understanding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) 

Facing debt collection is stressful and there are laws in place to protect consumers.  Debt collectors can be persistent, even to the point of becoming harassing and threatening at times. However, it is vital that consumers facing collections actions realize that they do, in fact, have rights, and these rights fall largely under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). 

The FDCPA was signed into law in 1978. The law designates what type of behavior is acceptable by debt collectors and what type is considered abusive and unethical.  The law was created to curb tactics that had largely gotten out of control by companies engaging in debt collection.  

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Collection

Can a Debt Collector Try To Collect on Debts Discharged in Bankruptcy?

A bankruptcy discharge gives a person a fresh financial start, freeing him or her from the stress of collection calls and aggressive debt collection practices. However, the fact that a debt has been discharged successfully in a bankruptcy case does not necessarily mean debt collectors will still not try and attempt to pursue collection of the debt. What happens in these situations?  

Under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, a discharge is a permanent court order that prohibits creditors from pursuing any type of collection on discharged debts. These prohibited actions include filing legal cases to collect on the debt, as well as communications with the consumer via personal contacts, letters, and phone calls. Essentially, the discharge in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case relieves the filer from any personal responsibility to pay off the debt.  

Not all consumer debts are dischargeable in a bankruptcy caseCertain debts are prohibited as a matter of public policy from being discharged, including government-backed student loans, child support, alimony, tax debt, and any debts incurred because of improper or illegal behavior.  Creditors for these debts can continue collecting on them even after the bankruptcy case is finalized.  

Debt Collection

Venmo’s Debt Collection Practices Under Investigation by the CFPB

Popular digital money-transfer service, Venmo, is finding itself at the center of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) investigation. The company that is owned and operated by PayPal Holdings, Inc. received a “Civil Investigative Demand” from CFPB with respect to Venmo’s debt collection processes and unauthorized fund transfers.  

Venmo has been the subject of a series of investigative articles by The Wall Street Journal in both 2019 and 2020 with respect to their aggressive debt-collection tactics. It reported that Venmo made threats to users who overdraw their accounts. These threats were also made to users who were the victims of scams. Even during the difficult financial times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has reportedly continued its aggressive collection  practices.

Debt Collection

Debt Collectors Will Soon Be Reaching Consumers via Text and Social Media

Debt collectors will soon have another way to reach consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a ruling outlining how collectors will soon be able to reach consumers via text messaging and social media The federal government has cleared the way for collection agencies to send unlimited texts, emails and even instant messages on social media platforms. 

Debt collectors will be required to include instructions on how to opt out of these messages within the text of the communication. The CFPB will also limit collectors to calling consumers to seven calls per week per debt.  

Credit Card Debt, Debt Collection

Debt Does Expire- Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wait for the Clock to Run Out

At some point, consumer debt is so old that it is no longer legally collectible. At this point, the debt is said to be past the statute of limitations, meaning no creditor or debt collector can take the consumer to court to collect on the debt. However, even though creditors cannot collect on debt past a certain time period, it does not mean this is the best strategy for consumers to seek in cancellation of this debt.  

Every state has a set of laws that govern how long a party has to pursue a legal cause of action. After the timeline has passed, the individual can no longer file a lawsuit. For debt collection, the statute of limitation hinges on the type of debt. In Florida, the statute of limitations for debts involving written contracts, such as personal loans, is five years. The statute of limitations is four years for debts that stem from oral contracts or revolving accounts, the most common of these being credit card debt. After that point, the creditor is not able to legally collect on the debt. 

Debt Collection

State and Federal Agencies Teaming Up to Combat Illegal Debt Collection

Debt collection is a profitable business in the U.S., but not all debt collectors follow legitimate, legal collection practices. According to officials from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)most consumer complaints made annually involve illegal debt collection practices, which is why they have made recent efforts to crack down on these types of tactics. 

In response, the FTC has launched a multi-agency campaign called “Operation Corrupt Collector.” This crackdown campaign focuses on educating consumers on how to identify illegal debt-collection practices, as well as enforcement against debt collectors who are found to be breaking the law.  

Debt Collection

Facing Debt Collection? Know Your Rights.

When someone is facing debt collection, it is important that person knows his or her rights.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers against unfair collection practices, including:

  • Calling you repeatedly to annoy or harass you;
  • Trying to collect more than you owe;
  • Failing to send a written notice of the debt;
  • Threatening violence, using profanity or offensive language;
  • Threatening dire consequences (i.e. – lawsuits, criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, jail time, permanently ruining your credit);
  • Calling you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.;
  • Revealing debt to third parties (i.e. – family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.);
  • Contacting you at your work, after you have requested them to stop;
  • Failing to verify disputed debts;
  • Ignoring cease communication requests.
Debt Collection

Cellphone Robocall Ban Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling this week that upheld a federal ban on robocalls to mobile devices. The ruling issued by the court broadened the ban, eliminating a 2015 exception that previously existed for government-debt collection while keeping the original 1991 robocall ban intact.

The matter came before the court in Barr vs. American Assn. of Political Consultants. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the case was ironically argued remotely via telephone. The ban was originally created by the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which issued fines up to $1,500 for any call or text placed to a mobile phone without prior consent by use of an automatic, robocall dialing or automated voice messaging system. The issue at hand arose after Congress created an exception to the law in 2015, that allowed for automated robocalls to consumers who owed debt to the U.S. government.

Debt Collection, Debt Relief, Medical Debt

How Long Does Medical Debt Remain on a Person’s Credit Report?

After suffering a serious injury or illness, it can be hard to pay the bills that inevitably follow. Considering how many Americans are now facing medical debt in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many wonder the effects this will have on their credit score and how long the debt will remain on their credit report.

After medical debt has been reported to the credit bureaus, it can remain on a consumer’s credit report for up to seven years. However, a person’s medical debt is not immediately reported to that individual’s credit as soon as it is incurred. It will not be reported to a person’s credit so long as that debt remains with the original service provider. Once a person defaults on the debt and it goes to collection, only then will the medical debt begin to show up on a person’s credit report.

Debt Collection

Consumer Groups Dispute Proposed Debt Collection Rule

A new rule is being proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would require debt collectors to notify consumers as to whether they can be legally sued for a debt they are attempting to collect. This rule follows complaints made by consumers regarding debt collectors threatening to collect on debts that they otherwise would not be able to pursue legally.

Every state has statutes of limitation which control how long an individual or entity can bring a legal action. For collection of debt, this timeline in Florida is five years for debts resulting from written contracts, such as personal loans, and four years for oral contracts or revolving accounts, including credit cards. If a creditor contacts a consumer regarding a debt past that deadline, the consumer is not under any legal obligation to pay.