What Is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that regulates the actions and behaviors permitted by third-party debt collectors. Third-party debt collectors are attempting to collect debts on behalf of another person or entity. In the case of student loans, this might be the federal government, your state, your school, or your private lender.
If a third-party debt collector violates the FDCPA, a suit can be brought against them within one year for damages and attorney fees.
The FDCPA is designed to protect students from predatory debt collection practices—something we take very seriously. Here’s what you need to know:
- The FDCPA covers when, how, and how often a third-party debt collector can contact you.
- In some cases, that debt collector can set up a payment plan or settlement to help a debtor pay their bill. We will always try to create a plan that works best for your particular situation.
- If the FDCPA is violated, you can sue that debt collector in state or federal court for damages and attorney fees within one year of the violation.
The FDCPA makes clear a number of guidelines for contacting debtors, including:
- Not calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless otherwise agreed upon.
- Sending letters, emails and text messages.
- Calling homes and offices—if the debtor tells the debt collector to stop calling their place of employment, the collector must not call that number again.
- Contacting relatives, neighbors, and associates to obtain contact information.
- Not using profane, obscene, or threatening language.
- Sending a validation notice within five days of contact specifying:
- The amount of money owed.
- The name of the creditor the debt is owed to.
- What to do if you think the debt isn’t yours.
In summary, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is meant to protect those who owe money from predatory debt collection practices.