Aug 24, 2013 Philip Burgess
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has been around for decades, though communication technology and evolution of modern commerce have shifted how the rules play out in the real world. Debt collectors need to ensure that they are following these guidelines as they are written, as well as how they might be interpreted in a court of law.
One of the more fundamental components of the FDCPA is the classification of debt collectors, and which types of parties are obligated to comply with the regulations. Any organization that does not fully understand the statutes laid out under the FDCPA should seek professional assistance from a debt collection firm that specializes in the processes.
Law firms and the FDCPA
InsideARM recently explained several ways in which law firms and legal professionals can find out if they are participating in actions that make them liable under the FDCPA. Debt collection agencies are not the only parties under the legislation, and several major Supreme Court decisions set precedence for the classification of lawyers as debt collectors in certain situations.
According to the news provider, in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that lawyers are required to follow the FDCPA when attempting to obtain consumer debts for their clients. Though this might seem like a fairly clear-cut definition, the increasing prevalence of collection activity in light of the economic recession and subsequent recovery have complicated the issue.
However, the source explained that law firms should first establish whether they are working to seek out debts that fit the definition of the FDCPA's standards. One of the trickier concepts to understand is that a law firm which does not regularly partake in collection practices might not be under the guidance and enforcement of the FDCPA.
InsideARM noted that the law states that debt collectors are considered as such when they regularly attempt to collect debts, but the interpretation of the word "regularly" is fairly inconsistent.
Law firms should always seek out professional help when not comfortable with the collection process.
Do not make threats
The Southeast Texas Record recently reported that a man in Cooke County, Texas, is suing a debt collector because he or she allegedly threatened him with a lawsuit. Most of the popular stories regarding FDCPA violations make it clear that certain agencies have simply not read the law. While there are some complexities, collectors should always ensure that the more obvious violations are avoided at all costs.