The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, addresses many forms of debt collector behavior, including a prohibition against certain misleading forms. Some of these violations are easily identified, and others are more technical and not readily visible to the average consumer. So anytime you hear from a debt collector or see one on your credit report, have the collection account reviewed by an experienced Fair Debt attorney, your money is too important to just guess as to whether your rights have been violated.
With regard to section “j,” the FDCPA makes it unlawful for a creditor to use a collection letter that makes the consumer think a third party other than the creditor is collecting. If a creditor does this, he is liable under the FDCPA just like any other debt collector, and anyone that violates your rights under this section or any other may owe you a monetary award, even where you suffer no harm. The debt collector also has to pay your attorney fees, meaning you can usually enforce your FDCPA rights at no cost to you.
And even if the FDCPA wasn’t violated for one reason for another, the collector or someone else in the account chain may have violated other rights of yours, for example, they could be improperly credit reporting in violation of the FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT. Things like collection letters, collection voice mails, collection call logs, and detailed notes of conversations with collectors, as well as credit report entries showing collector pulls and reporting, can each form powerful evidence in the fight against debt collection and help you to level the playing field.
15 U.S. Code § 1692j
(a) It is unlawful to design, compile, and furnish any form knowing that such form would be used to create the false belief in a consumer that a person other than the creditor of such consumer is participating in the collection of or in an attempt to collect a debt such consumer allegedly owes such creditor, when in fact such person is not so participating.
(b) Any person who violates this section shall be liable to the same extent and in the same manner as a debt collector is liable under section 1692k of this title for failure to comply with a provision of this subchapter.
This section prohibits the practice of selling to creditors dunning letters that falsely imply that a debt collector is participating in collection of the debt, when in fact only the creditor is collecting. This section applies to anyone who designs, complies, or furnishes the forms prohibited by this section. Examples of violations could include the creditor sending a letter on a collector’s letterhead even though the collector is not involved in collecting the debt, or even a letter indicating “copy to (the collector)” if the collector is not participating in collecting the debt. A form seller may not avoid liability by including a statement in the text of a form letter that the sender has not yet been assigned the account for collection, if the communication as a whole, using the collector’s letterhead, represents otherwise. Any person who violates this section shall be liable to the same extent and in the same manner as a debt collector for failure to comply with a provision of this title.
(Pub. L. 90–321, title VIII, § 812, as added Pub. L. 95–109, Sept. 20, 1977, 91 Stat. 880.)