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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted in 1977 to protect consumers from abusive, unfair, and deceptive practices by third-party debt collectors. The law details when and how a collector may contact a debtor. The government enforcer of the law has historically been the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but some regulatory duties may be shared with the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection housed within the Federal Reserve, created in 2010.

The FDCPA is a strict civil liability law, which means that a consumer need not prove actual damages in order to claim statutory damages of up to $1,000 per violation plus reasonable attorney fees.

It is commonly believed that the FDCPA will be amended and/or updated in the 112th Congress (2011-2012).

The complete Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (PDF, 326 KB)


CFPB Targets ARM Industry — Which Practices Should Your Company Avoid?

The CFPB intends for its consent orders to set industry-wide precedents. In March 2016, CFPB Director Richard Cordray referred to consent orders as a guide “to all participants in the marketplace to avoid similar violations and make an immediate effort to correct any such improper practices,” telling the Consumer Bankers Association that any company not following the precedents set by the CFPB’s consent orders is committing “compliance malpractice.”


Appellate Courts Hold Typical Collection Letters Violate FDCPA

The requirements for what debt collectors are required to provide in “snail mail” notices to consumers arises from a patchwork of Federal, State and local laws — as well as case law that often varies by jurisdiction — and many of the requirements are antiquated, dating back to the 1970s. Unfortunately, these dated and contradictory collection letter requirements continue to result in lawsuits and adverse Court decisions against debt collectors.


Colorado FDCPA Preparing for Sunset Review

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies is performing a “sunset review” of Colorado’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Colorado General Assembly sets specific dates that a particular agency, board, or, in this case, function of government will terminate unless the legislature passes new legislation to continue. A  sunset review will generally question the need for regulation […]


4th Cir. Confirms Entity Is Not FDCPA ‘Debt Collector’ Merely Because It Purchases Defaulted Debt

This article previously appeared on The Consumer Financial Services Blog and is re-published here with permission. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently held that the fact that a debt is in default at the time it is purchased by a third party does not necessarily make that third party a “debt collector” subject […]


Convenience Fees: Potential for Mischief?

Two attorneys — one for collections, one for consumers — talk through urgency channels, convenience fees, and due dates. It’s another example of how language that, on the surface, seems helpful and clarifying for a collection agency, can also be seen as deceptive, by a consumer attorney, to the Least Sophisticated Consumer.


FTC Advises Debt Collectors on Use of Text or Social Media to Engage Consumers

The following was posted yesterday afternoon on the Federal Trade Commission business blog. It’s a reminder (warning) to debt collectors about the parameters under which they may engage consumers through text messages or social media. — We get this question a lot: “Is it OK to use text messages or social media to collect debts?” Do you […]