National Skip Tracing Month

FDCPA Prohibited Practices - Manual Excerpt, Part II

  • Written by Collection Advisor

cfpb logoPeriodically reacquainting oneself with important information is always a good idea. In the spirit of such a truth, presented are practices prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as listed in the CFPB Supervision and Examination Manual, Version 2, pages FDCPA 4 - FDCPA 6.

Prohibited Practices Harassing or Abusive Practices – 15 U.S.C. 1692d

A debt collector in collecting a debt, may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person. For example, a debt collector may not:
• Use or threaten to use violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.
• Use obscene, profane, or other language that abuses the hearer or reader.
• Publish a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency or to persons meeting the requirements of Section 603(f) or 604(3) of the Act.
• Advertise a debt for sale to coerce payment.
• Annoy, abuse, or harass persons by calling repeatedly their telephone number or allowing their telephones to ring continually.
• Make telephone calls without properly identifying oneself, except as allowed to obtain location information.

False or Misleading Representations – 15 U.S.C. 1692e

A debt collector, in collecting a debt, may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation. For example, a debt collector may not:
• Falsely represent or imply that he or she is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any state, including the use of any badge, uniform, or similar identification.
• Falsely represent the character, amount, or legal status of the debt, or of any services rendered, or compensation he or she may receive for collecting the debt.
• Falsely represent or imply that he or she is an attorney or that communications are from an attorney.
• Threaten to take any action which is not legal or intended.
• Falsely represent or imply that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person, unless such action is lawful and intended by the debt collector or creditor.
• Falsely represent or imply that the sale, referral, or other transfer of the debt will cause the consumer to lose a claim or a defense to payment, or become subject to any practice prohibited by the FDCPA.
• Falsely represent or imply that the consumer committed a crime or other conduct to disgrace the consumer.
• Communicate, or threaten to communicate, false credit information or information which should be known to be false, including not identifying disputed debts as such.
• Use or distribute written communications made to look like or falsely represented to be documents authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any state if it would give a false impression of its source, authorization, or approval.
• Use any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect a debt or to obtain information about a consumer.
• Fail to disclose in the initial written communication with the consumer, and the initial oral communication if it precedes the initial written communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose. In addition, the debt collector must disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector. (These disclosures do not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.)
• Falsely represent or imply that accounts have been sold to innocent purchasers.
• Falsely represent or imply that documents are legal process.
• Use any name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization.
• Falsely represent or imply that documents are not legal process or do not require action by the consumer.
• Falsely represent or imply that he or she operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency.

Unfair Practices – 15 U.S.C. 1692f

A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect a debt. For example, a debt collector may not:
• Collect any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation unless it was authorized by the original debt agreement or is otherwise permitted by law.
• Accept a check or other instrument post-dated by more than five days, unless he or she notifies the consumer, in writing, of any intention to deposit the check or instrument. That notice must be made not more than ten or less than three business days before the date of deposit.
• Solicit a post-dated check or other post-dated payment instrument to use as a threat or to institute criminal prosecution.
• Deposit or threaten to deposit a post-dated check or other post-dated payment instrument before the date on the check or instrument.
• Cause communication charges, such as those for collect telephone calls and telegrams, to be made to any person by concealing the true purpose of the communication.
• Take or threaten to repossess or disable property when the creditor has no enforceable right to the property or does not intend to do so, or if, under law, the property cannot be taken, repossessed, or disabled.
• Use a postcard to contact a consumer about a debt.
• Use any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer; a debt collector may use its business name if such name does not indicate it is in the debt collection business.