Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") prohibits debt collectors from engaging in unfair, deceptive, and abusive debt collection practices. 
The FDCPA imposes monetary penalties upon debt collectors who use false or misleading statements or actions when attempting to collect debt. For example, a debt collector may not:
  • falsely represent the character, amount, or legal status of a debt;
  • threaten to take any action that it cannot legally take;
  • falsely represent that an individual is an attorney, or that a document was sent by an attorney;
  • use a fictitious name when communicating with a consumer; or
  • falsely represent or imply that a consumer committed a crime or that non-payment will result in arrest.
The above list is non-exhaustive, and the FDCPA generally applies to any type of false, misleading, or deceptive statements or conduct that a debt collector uses in collection activities.
Additionally, debt collectors must closely review a consumer's file before communicating with or filing suit against the consumer. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from suing a consumer in a court located outside of his or her home county or federal district. When challenged, a debt collector must be able to prove that the debt is valid, and that it owns and has the right to collect the account in question. 
Wisconsin Consumer Act
The Wisconsin Consumer Act ("WCA") also prohibits unfair, deceptive, and abusive debt collection practices. While the applicable WCA statute closely mirrors the FDCPA, in some respects, Wisconsin's debt collection law is stronger than the federal law. Most notably, while the FDCPA's definition of "debt collector"is limited to third-parties attempting to collect debt on behalf of other persons or companies, the WCA's definition includes third-party debt collectors as well as merchants attempting to collect their own debts.
O'Connor Law Firm exclusively represents consumers and debtors in collection cases. If you have been sued or are being threatened or harassed by a debt collector, call O'Connor Law Firm at (608) 203-6349 for a free initial consultation.
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