Debt Collection Letters

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Sending direct mailings to consumers is a common collection strategy employed by debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires collection agencies to include certain notices in their letters. The FDCPA also prohibits collection agencies from making certain threats and representations in their letters.

When debt collectors send collection letters that violate the FDCPA, you could get actual damages and up to $1,000 for each unlawful letter you receive. Please contact BCJ Law for help. To get a free case review today from a Pennsylvania debt attorney, call 1-800-997-5561 or complete our contact form.

What things must debt collectors include in collection letters?

The FDCPA requires debt collectors to include certain language and disclosure in each letter they send consumers. The FDCPA imposes additional disclosure and notice requirements on initial collection letters sent by debt collection agencies.

All collection letters

All letters sent by debt collection agencies must state that the letter is from a debt collection agency. All collection letters also must use the true name of the debt collector responsible for sending the letter.

Initial collection letters

The first letter you get from a collection agency must accurately state the amount of debt owed and the entity to which the debt is owed. Initial letter communications also must include the following statements:

  • A statement that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose.
  • A statement that the debt collector will assume the debt is valid unless it receives a dispute in 30 days.
  • A statement that you can dispute the debt in writing within 30 days and that the debt collector will obtain and mail verification of the debt to you.
  • A statement that you can request in writing within 30 days the name and address of the original creditor and that the debt collector will obtain and mail such information to you.

What things must debt collectors exclude from collection letters.

The FDCPA prohibits deceptive and misleading language in collection letters. It also regulates how debt collection agencies communicate through mail with consumers.

Deceptive and Misleading Language

There are many examples of deceptive and misleading language prohibited by the FDCPA. Here are some common violations:

  • Threats of arrest or jail, threats to garnish wages, threats to take property without authority, or other threats to take action that can't be taken.
  • Language implying or representing that a collection letter is from a federal, state, or local government agency when it is not.
  • Inaccurate disclosures, misleading settlement offers, or threats to take legal action on debts past the statute of limitations.
  • Inaccurate disclosures about the amount of debt owed or the fees, charges and costs associated with a debt.

Unlawful Mailing Practices

The following debt collection mailing practices are prohibited by the FDCPA:

  • Using language or symbols on envelopes other than a debt collector address.
  • Sending collection communications by post card or post card equivalents.
  • Sending collection letters to family, friends, employers, or third-parties.

How should I respond to collection letters?

There’s no correct way to respond to letters sent by debt collection agencies. Your response generally depends on a number of factors, including whether you think you may or may not owe the debt at issue, or whether you think the debt at issue is past the statute of limitations. For tips on responding to collection letters, read our page on dealing with debt collectors.

Can I get damages if collection letters violate the FDCPA?

Damages are available if you get collection letters that include prohibited language or exclude required disclosures. The FDCPA allows you to get actual damages and up to $1000 for each unlawful letter you receive.

In addition to claims under the FDCPA, you may have claims under other laws, like the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), or the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL).

How much does it cost to sue debt collectors?

When BCJ Law handles FDCPA claims, we often get debt collectors to pay our attorneys fees and costs. If your case is filed as a class action, our fees either are paid by the debt collector or from a common fund for the benefit of the class. We never get paid unless we get recovery for our clients.

Hire BCJ Law to help!

If you’re getting harassed by a debt collection agency, please contact BCJ Law for help. You may be entitled to actual damages and up to $1000 for each unlawful collection letter you received. To get a free case review today, please fill out our free case review form or call us at 1-800-997-5561.

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