Nine Most Common Complaints of FDCPA Violations

Complaints of Debt Collector Harassment

The nine most common complaints of FDCPA violations received by the FTC in 2012 (most recent available data). Each category includes the number of complaints and the percentage of total complaints of debt collector misconduct.

Complaints of Debt Collector Harassment

Source: Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Annual Report 2013, CFPB

Are you being harassed by a debt collector? As the most recent data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows, you are not alone. In a given year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives roughly 125,000 complaints from consumers about how they are being mistreated by debt collectors.

Nearly 80 percent of these complaints concern third-party debt collectors. These are companies that buy debt or are hired to collect what you owe on a bill, mortgage or other type of loan.

According to the CFPB, the nine most common complaints of debt collector conduct (and violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA) are: 

  • Falsely represents the character, amount or status of the debt – This occurs when the debt collector tries to collect an amount that is higher than what the consumer actually owes or is one that the consumer no longer owes. For example, the debt collector tells a consumer they owe a credit card debt even though it was discharged in bankruptcy.
  • Calls repeatedly or continuously – This occurs when the debt collector goes beyond calling to remind you of your debt or to check on your ability to pay. This conduct is intentionally harasses and intimidates you. For instance, the collector calls you every morning and every night while knowing there has been no change in the amount you owe or your ability to pay.
  • Falsely threatens suit/illegal or unintended act – This typically happens when the debt collector threatens to take an action that it has no legal authority to carry out. A payday lender, for example, can’t sue you to collect on a loan that carries an illegal interest rate. 
  • Fails to send written notice of debt – This involves a debtor being harassed about a debt without ever having received legally required written notice about the debt. This notice should inform the debtor what amount of debt is owed and who the debt is owed to. It should also tell the debtor that the collector will provide verification of the debt and mail it to the consumer if the consumer disputes the debt within 30 days of receiving the written notice. 
  • Falsely threatens arrest, seizure of property – This is similar to a debt collector threatening to file a lawsuit when it knows there is no legal authority to file one. For instance, if you owe a medical debt, the collector can’t threaten to repossess your car. 
  • Fails to identify self as a debt collector – This often occurs when the debt collector tries to get information from you that you probably would not provide if you knew who was contacting you. For example, the debt collector may try to get the name of your employer. 
  • Calls someone repeatedly to obtain debtor’s location – This happens when a debt collector calls your family, friends or employer to try to find out where you live or your phone number. This can result in the humiliating disclosure that you owe the debt or can’t make your payments. 
  • Calls debtor at work knowing debtor can’t take calls – This happens when a debt collector puts your job in jeopardy by calling you at work. Unfortunately, the debt collector may use your fear of getting fired or disciplined at work to intimidate you. 
  • Uses obscene, profane or otherwise abusive language – This is another form of intimidation, and it can lead to significant emotional distress.

Fortunately, you can file a complaint with the FTC, CFPB, Florida Attorney General’s office or Better Business Bureau that calls attention to these forms of debt collector harassment. You can also take legal action that can compensate you for the harm the debt collector has caused you.

Don’t wait to take action! Contact the Florida Debt Fighters today to learn about your options.