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The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") requires that a debt collector treat a debtor fairly by prohibiting certain methods of debt collection. This law does not however forgive a legitimate debt. Included are answers to commonly asked questions about creditors, debtors, collection practices and their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a debt collector?
A debt collector is any person, other than the original creditor, who regularly collects debts owed to others. Under a 1986 amendment to the FDCPA, this usually includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis.
What debts are included?
Personal, family, and household debts are all included under the FDCPA. This includes money owed for the purchase of a motor vehicle, medical care, or charge (credit card) accounts.
How may a debt collector contact you?
A debt collector may contact a debtor in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or facsimile (fax). However, a debt collector may not contact you at an unreasonable time or place, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless the debtor agrees to that. A debt collector also may not contact a debtor at work if the collector knows that the employer disapproves. That means that if a debt collector contacts you at work and you inform him or her that your employer does not approve of personal collection calls at their workplace, the debt collector cannot contact you at work in the future.
Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency indicating that you do not wish for them to contact you further regarding the debt. Once the debt collector receives that letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact. The agency may notify you if the debt collector or the creditor intends to take specific action.
May a debt collector contact anyone else about your debts?
If you have an attorney, the debt collector may not contact anyone other than your attorney. However, if you do not have an attorney, a debt collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live and work. Debt collectors are usually prohibited from contacting such permissible third parties more than once. In most cases, the collector may not tell anyone other than you and your attorney that you owe money.
What must a debt collector tell a debtor about the debt?
Within five (5) days after you are first contacted by a debt collector, they must send you a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe, the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money and what action to take if you believe that you do not owe the money.
May a debt collector continue to contact a debtor if the debtor believes he does not owe money?
Once you send a debt collector a letter indicating that you do not owe the money within thirty (30) days after you are first contacted by him or her, they may not contact you further. However, a debt collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof that you actually owe the debt, such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed.
What type of debt collection practices are prohibited?
Harassment. Debt collectors may not harass, oppress or abuse anyone. For example, a debt collectors may not:
- Use threats of violence or harm against the person, property, or reputation;
- Publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);
- Use obscene or profane language;
- Repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone;
- Telephone people without identifying themselves;
- Advertise your debt.

False Statements. Debt collectors may not use any false statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
- Falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
- Falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
- Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
- Misrepresent the amount of your debt;
- Misrepresent the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt;
- Indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not;
- Indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are. A debt collectors may not state:
- You will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
- They will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so;
- Actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, which legally may not be taken, or which they do not intend to take.

Debt collectors also may not:
- Give false credit information about you to anyone;
- Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not;
- Use a false name.

Unfair Practices. Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, a debt collector may not:
- Collect any amount greater that your debt, unless allowed by law;
- Deposit a post-dated check prematurely;
- Make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;
- Take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally;
- Contact you by postcard.
What can you do if you believe a debt collector violated the law?
You have the right to sue a debt collector in a state or federal court within one year from the date you believe the law was violated. If you win, you may recover money for the damages you suffered, Court costs and attorneys fees. A group of people also may sue a debt collector (called a class action) and recover money for damages up to $500,000.00, or one percent of the collectors net worth, whichever is less.
Where can you report a debt collector for an alleged violation of FDCPA?
Report any problems or violations that you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General's Office and the Federal Trade Commission. Many states including Georgia have their own debt collection laws and your Attorney General's office can help determine your rights.

If you have questions about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or your rights under the Act, write to: Correspondence Branch, Federal Trade Commission; Washington, D.C. 20580. For more information visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at: