Debt Collectors Are Prohibited From Contacting Debtors Who Are Represented By An Attorney

FDCPA Prohibits Contacting Represented Debtors

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or FDCPA prohibits a debt collector, which includes collection agencies, debt buyers, and collection lawyers, from contacting a debtor who they know or should know is represented by a lawyer. This knowledge may come from the debtor telling the collector he has a lawyer, or may come from prior efforts to collect the debt. In any event, a debt collector who contacts a represented debtor is subject to claims under the FDCPA, including statutory damages of up to $1,000, and any actual damages. 


FTC Issues 2010 Annual Report on FDCPA to Congress

FTC Reports Consumer Complaints Rise 17% in 2010

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued its 2011 annual report to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) showing that consumer debt collection complaints rose 17% in 2010.  The federal agency received 140,036 debt collection complaints in 2010 compared to 119,609 in 2009.  The FTC also reported that it received more complaints about the debt collection industry than from any other specific industry.

Top Categories for Debt Collection Complaints

The top areas which consumers complain about were:

•    calling repeatedly or continuously

•    misrepresenting the character, amount or status of the debt (including demanding a larger payment that is permitted by law)

•    Failing to send consumers the required written notice about the debt and their rights

•    Threatening dire consequences if the consumer fails to pay, including false threats of legal action, threats of criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, and damage to consumer’s credit rating.

•    Failing to identify that it is a debt collector

•    Revealing alleged debt to third parties, including family, friends, and co-workers.

•    Calls to consumer’s place of employment

•    Failing to verify disputed debts

•    Continuing to contact consumers after receiving written notice to stop all communication.

FTC Provides Information About Consumers’ Rights

The FTC’s “Debt Collection FAQs: Guide for Consumers” brochure is available at  The FTC also has an animated video that explains consumer rights regarding debt collection. It can be viewed at and

FDCPA Prohibits Deceptive, Unfair and Abusive Practices

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using any deceptive, unfair, and abusive collection tactics to attempt to collect a debt. Though the FTC may take action against some third-party debt collectors or debt-buyers, most Arizona consumers will obtain relief only from bringing a private action in Arizona courts.

If you are an Arizona consumer who has been contacted by a third-party debt collector or debt buyer and feel that their collection actions were deceptive, unfair, harassing, or abusive, please call Floyd W. Bybee at the BYBEE LAW CENTER, PLC (480) 756-8822.

Should I Pursue My FDCPA Claims?

Many times I am asked by Arizona consumers whether they should pursue their claims under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). My answer is usually yes, and always starts with an explanation of the purposes of the Act.

FDCPA Intended to Protect Consumers From Abusive Collection Practices.

Congress stated that the purpose of the FDCPA is to protect all consumers from abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices. Even though not all consumers who are abused file suit, or even know they have any protection under the law, each individual consumer who does bring a claim under the law adds to the cumulative effect of coercing collection agencies into complying with the FDCPA. Thus, not only do these consumers recover the damages they have personally suffered as a result of the collection abuse, but the collection agencies are more likely to comply with the law in order to avoid similar court actions from other consumers.

Enforcement of the FDCPA also Levels the Playing Field for Ethical Debt Collectors.

Part of the benefit from enforcing the FDCPA, is that ethical collection agencies — the ones who are polite, and truthful, and respectful — are not put at a competitive disadvantage to those agencies who fail to comply with the FDCPA. That may not seem to be much of a benefit to the consumer, but it really is. Almost all Arizona consumers with whom I meet, are not looking for a way to avoid or delay paying a legitimate debt. They just need the harassment to stop so that they can keep their job, avoid filing bankruptcy, and eventually pay the debts they legally owe. So by raising the compliance level of all collection agencies, fewer Arizona consumers are suffering the effects of collection harassment and will ultimately be in a better position to pay the debts they owe.

I Can Help.

If you are an Arizona debtor and are being abused or harassed by a collection agency or other debt collector, find out what your rights are and whether you have any claims.

Feel free to call Floyd W. Bybee at the BYBEE LAW CENTER, PLC (480) 756-8822 to set up a consultation.