DISCLAIMER [Legal Stuff]: This information is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be a legal opinion nor legal advice nor is it intended to be a complete discussion of all the issues related to the area of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or consumer bankruptcy. Each individual's factual situation is different and you should seek specific legal advice regarding your rights. The FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT, (15 USC Â§1692, et. seq.) which became law in 1977, protects consumers from the unfair collection practices of third-party bill collectors. The FDCPA applies only to debt collectors attempting to collect consumer debts -- debts that were incurred for personal, family or household purposes. Business or agricultural debts are not covered by the FDCPA and, even if the debt is a consumer debt, the entity which actually extended the credit is not covered by the FDCPA. For example: Bill collectors MAY NOT call you or visit with you at inconvenient times or places. That means, generally, before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. or on your job, if you have asked not to be contacted there. Bill collectors MAY NOT discuss your credit problems with your family members or friends. They may, however, call your family and friends to try to locate you. If the bill collector knows you have a lawyer or a form or representation, he must contact the lawyer or company and he MAY NOT continue to contact you. Bill collectors MUST STOP contacting you if you tell them to in writing. Bill collectors are FORBIDDEN from using harassing or abusive tactics, such as: Â·using obscene language; Â·making false statements about who they are; Â·using threats to make your name public as a "deadbeat;â? Â·repeatedly use the telephone to harass or annoy you; Â·threatening to use force against you or harm you; Â·sending documents to you which look like court documents; Â·threatening to send the sheriff out to lock you up; Â·threatening to garnish your wages "tomorrow.â? Bill collectors MAY NOT make false statements to you which: Â·imply the he/she is an attorney or government representative; Â·imply that you have committed a crime; Â·represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau; Â·misrepresent the amount you owe; Â·misrepresent the involvement of an attorney; Â·misrepresent the legal impact of papers being sent to you. Bill collectors MAY NOT: Â§collect any money greater than your debt; Â§deposit a post-dated check prematurely; Â§make you accept a collect call or pay for a telegram; Â§take or threaten to take your property without legal process; Â§contact you by postcard. Bill collectors MAY NOT give false information about you to anyone, including credit bureaus or credit reporting agencies. Within FIVE DAYS of contacting you, a bill collector must send a written notice to you that includes information about your debt, the creditor involved and the fact that you have 30 days to dispute the debt. If you dispute the debt in writing, the bill collector has 30 days to provide written proof of the debt or collection efforts must STOP. If a bill collector violates the law, you have the right to sue the collector in state or federal court within one year from the date you believe the law was violated. If you win, you may recover an award of (1) actual damages, (2) statutory damages of up to $1,000 to the individual consumer, and (3) in a class action statutory damages of up to $500,000 or 1% of the debt collectorâ??s net worth whichever is less. Statutory damages are a penalty against the debt collector payable to the consumer for violation of his or her FDCPA rights. The consumer need not have actual damages in order to recover statutory damages. The successful consumer is also entitled to an award of costs and reasonable attorneys fees.