The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, is a federal law that was enacted in 1977 to protect consumers from debt collectors who use abusive, unfair, and otherwise unethical means to obtain payment for an outstanding debt. Under the FDCPA, a consumer may:
- Dispute a debt and request no further contact from a collection agency
- Tell the debt collector not to call them at work if such calls are not permitted by the employer
- Request proof that a debt exists and the collector is authorized to request payment
- Be represented by an attorney in a debt resolution case
The Act also places the following restrictions on debt collectors:
- They may not contact consumers at inconvenient times. The FDCPA prohibits contact before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m.
- If a debtor has an attorney, the collector must deal exclusively with that attorney regarding the debt.
- They may not pretend to attorneys, members of law enforcement, or government employees.
- Threats, insults, and abusive language are prohibited.
Alleged Violations against National Recovery Solutions*
National Recovery Solutions is a collection agency located in Lockport, New York. Established around 2006, it has an estimated 10-20 employees and specializes in collecting delinquent student loans. A review of consumer complaints boards and federal court records maintained by PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), reveals allegations of various FDCPA violations.
In January 2010, a consumer received a message on his office voicemail from a party who identified himself as ‘Sean Hackett’. Mr. Hackett said he was calling about a claim and added, “I need to speak to you on this matter as soon as possible if you wish to resolve this voluntarily. ” A second call indicated that the matter concerned a delinquent account from Chase Bank.
The plaintiff’s office voicemail includes the following notice: “Please be advised that if you are calling concerning a non-[employer] related matter, [the plaintiff's employer] prohibits employees from receiving such calls.” Yet Mr. Hackett continued to call. On February 1, 2010, an employee from the payroll department advised the plaintiff that “Mr. Sean Hackett from National Recovery Solutions” had called and requested a callback from the plaintiff.
Embarrassed and alarmed that he was receiving such calls at his workplace (despite a rule forbidding it), the plaintiff retained an attorney. The attorney filed a complaint with the US District Court that accused National Recovery Solutions of disclosing debt details to an uninvolved third party and calling a workplace number when employer rules forbade such contact. Such conduct, he alleged, was done solely to harass the plaintiff into paying the debt.
The matter was later dismissed.
What to do if you get ‘the call’
If you receive a call from 1-866-421-2969, someone from National Recovery Solutions is trying to collect money from you to settle a debt. If you do not owe the money, advise the collector that the debt is in dispute, which requires them to verify the debt before taking further action. You also have the right to request no more contact, and under the FDCPA, they must cease further communications unless it is to inform you that they are stopping collection efforts or or actually taking (as opposed to threatening) legal action.
If a debt collector’s interactions with you constitute a violation of the FDCPA, you can protect yourself by hiring an attorney with experience in safeguarding consumer rights. Once you have an attorney representing you about the debt, collection agencies are only allowed to contact them, not you. To do otherwise is a direct breach of the FDCPA, and could earn you a compensation of $1000 per incident.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 1:10-cv-00862, from United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against National Recovery Solutions or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.