Winning a court case in Louisiana does not guarantee that you will receive the money owed to you, and collecting your court-mandated judgment can be a daunting task. As a creditor, if you violate federal debt collection laws laid down in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) you can find yourself on the defendant’s stand. Meanwhile if you are a debtor, these laws can protect you from a collector unduly harassing you.
In a local case that illustrates the hazards of debt collection, in 2012 Don Wetherington and his wife filed suit in a New Orleans federal court against a debt collection agency for trying to collect his debt in a way that violates federal law. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants went to Wetherington’s place of employment and left a printed note on the door that was visible to coworkers and that constituted a “prohibited third-party communication.” The plaintiff also claims that the creditor tried to intimidate him into paying the debt using a loud and aggressive tone.
Weatherington accused the defendant of the violating the FDCPA, invading the plaintiffs’ personal privacy, and intentionally inflicting of emotional distress.
Restrictions when Pursuing a Debtor: DON’Ts and MUSTs
There are a number of ways you can try to contact your debtor, but the FDCPA only sets out the guidelines for what you can’t do, as well as what you must do, in order for your debt collection attempts to remain legally valid.
Here are some of the things you can’t do:
- Continuing communication after the debtor tells you to stop or indicates a refusal to pay
- Repeatedly or continuously telephoning the debtor or call them outside the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. local time
- Contacting a debtor known to be represented by an attorney
- Threatening arrest or lawsuit or using abusive or profane language
- Using deceit, such as representing yourself as an attorney or law enforcement agent
- Publishing the debtor’s name on a “bad debt” list or reporting false information on the debtor’s credit report
Here are some of the things you must do:
- Identify yourself as a debt collector, as well as the name and address of the creditor, and notify the debtor that any information they give will be used to collect the debt
- Notify the debtor that they have the right to dispute the debt
- Provide verification of the debt if requested by the debtor
Keep in mind that the FDCPA does not apply to third-party commercial collection agencies, which are regulated instead by strict rules required for certified membership in the Commercial Collection Agency Association (CCAA). If the collection agency is not a CCAA member, they are not subject to the CCAA rules, and it is up to you to make sure that your creditor is playing fair.
Turn to Legal Specialists to Resolve Your Debt
The laws of debt collection are complex, and justice can only be served for both parties when you know and follow your federal and state guidelines. Contact the business law attorneys at Smiley Law to make sure that your debts are resolved.