Every day, millions of consumers are contacted by debt collectors to resolve an outstanding debt. Sometimes these interactions are simple and easy to resolve. Unfortunately, most consumers have negative experiences with debt collectors. Even though there are laws and guidelines for debt collection practices, many creditors and debt collectors continue to violate consumer rights.
To help consumers understand their rights, Daic Law has compiled helpful information for consumers, including how to file a complaint and when it may be time to get legal help.
Texas Debt Collection Practices
Debt collection practices in Texas are governed by both state and federal law. Creditors and debt collectors must operate within these guidelines when attempting to collect a debt. If a creditor or debt collector violates consumer rights, the consumer has the option of pursuing legal action.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The FDCPA is the federal law that outlines debt collection practices and consumer rights. The FDCPA provides certain protections for consumers, such as:
- Debt collectors can only contact consumers between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the consumer’s time zone.
- Debt collectors may not harass or threaten consumers in any way, including:
- Repetitive calls
- Threatening Bodily harm
- Threatening arrest
- Using foul or profane language
- Threatening legal action
- Publicizing the debt
- Debt collectors cannot provide personal information to family members or associates.
- If a consumer stipulates that a debt collector not call them at work, the collector must not call that number again.
- Debt collectors cannot lie or provide misleading information to consumers.
- A debt collector cannot physically come to a consumer’s place of employment.
- A debt collector cannot contact a consumer more than seven times in a seven-day period.
- If a debt collector contacts a consumer via social media, it must be done privately.
The Texas Debt Collection Act
In addition to the FDCPA, creditors and debt collectors in Texas must also abide by the Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA). Under this act, debt collectors cannot:
- Use abuse collection tactics, such as:
- Threatening violence
- Using obscene language
- Falsely accusing the debtor
- Threatening arrest or repossession
- Harassing via telephone
- Contacting the consumer without disclosing the nature of the call
- Use fraudulent collection tactics, such as:
- Using a fake name or identification
- Misrepresenting the debt, the amount, or the existence of a debt collection lawsuit
- Sending documents that are misleading
- Failing to identify who holds the debt
- Providing false information in order to discover information about the consumer
- Trying to collect more than the debt is actually worth
Creditors or debt collectors who violate the TDCA may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties. Violations of the TDCA may also violate the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices/Consumer Protection Act.
How to File a Complaint
Consumers who feel that their rights have been violated can find help or file a complaint via the following:
OCCC Creditor Complaint
The Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (OCCC) frequently receives complaints from consumers about their experiences with debt collection practices. The OCCC has to ways that consumers can file a complaint against a creditor. The OCCC Consumer Assistance Helpline is 800-538-1579. Also, consumers can file a complaint online. Before filing a complaint, there are some things you should know:
- The OCCC does not provide legal representation and cannot provide legal advice.
- Consumers wishing to seek monetary damages from a creditor or debt collector should contact a debt defense attorney.
- The OCCC will not intervene in matters involving current litigation, or in which a court ruling has been made.
- Consumers should be aware that their complaint may be available to the public under the Texas Public Information Act.
- OCCC complaints will be included in the Complaint Database, which may be used for future reference.
Third Party Debt Collector Complaints
The OCCC does not handle complaints against third party debt collection agencies. For these complaints, consumers will need to contact the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Helpline. Consumers can call 1-800-621-050, or file a complaint online. The Consumer Protection Helpline assists with complaints, spotting scams, and filing civil cases in public interest.
Contact a Debt Defense Attorney
For many consumers, it is difficult to sort through laws and regulations, and understand the best options to protect their rights. At Daic Law, we understand how frustrating this can be, and that’s why we offer simple solutions for consumers who need a legal advocate.
If you believe that your consumer rights have been violated by a creditor or debt collector, or if you are being sued by one, contact us today to find out how we can help you protect your rights. For a free consultation, call us at 877-893-6040, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.