Findings and purpose.
Acquisition of location information.
Communication in connection with debt collection.
Harassment or abuse.
False or misleading representations.
Validation of debts.
Legal actions by debt collectors.
Furnishing certain deceptive forms.
Reports to Congress by the Commission.
Relation to state laws.
Exemption for state regulation.
801. Short title
title may be cited as the "Fair Debt Collections Practices Act".
802. Findings and purpose
There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and
unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors.
Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal
bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to
invasions of individual privacy.
Existing laws and procedures for redressing these injuries are inadequate
to protect debtors.
Means other than misrepresentation or other abusive debt collection
practices are available for the effective collection of debts.
Abusive debt collection practices are carried on to a substantial
extent in interstate commerce and through means and instrumentality's
of such commerce. Even where abusive debt collection practices
are purely intrastate in character, they nevertheless directly affect
It is the purpose of this title to eliminate abusive debt collection
practices by debt collectors, to insure that those debt collectors
who refrain from using abusive debt collection practices are not
competitively disadvantaged, and to promote consistent State action
to protect debtors against debt collection abuses.
used in this title"
The term ŒCommission' means the Federal Trade Commission.
The term Œcommunication' means the conveying of information regarding
a debt directly or indirectly to any person through any medium.
The term Œconsumer' means any natural person obligated or allegedly
obligated to pay any debt.
The term Œcreditor' means any person who offers or extends credit
creating debt or to whom a debt is owed, but such term does not
include any person to the extent that he receives an assignment
or transfer of a debt in default solely for the purpose of facilitating
collection of such debt for another.
The term Œdebt' means any obligation or alleged obligation of a
consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the
money, property, insurance, or services which are the subject of
the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household
purposes, whether or not such obligation has been reduced to judgment.
The term Œdebt collector' means any person who uses any instrumentality
of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal
purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly
collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed
or due or asserted to be owed or due another. Notwithstanding
the exclusion provided by clause (F) of the last sentence of this
paragraph, the term includes any creditor who, in the process of
collecting his own debts, uses any name other than his own which
would indicate that a third person is collecting or attempting to
collect such debts. For the purpose of section 808(6), such
term also includes any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate
commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose, which
is the enforcement of security interests. The term does not
any officer or employee of a creditor while, in the name of the
creditor, collecting debtors for such creditor;
any person while acting as a debt collector for another person,
both of whom are related by common ownership or affiliated by
corporate control, if the person acting as a debt collector does
so only for persons to whom it is so related or affiliated and
if the principal business of such person is not the collection
any officer or employee of the United States or any State to the
extent that collecting or attempting to collect any debt is in
the performance of this official duties;
any person while serving or attempting to serve legal process
on any other person in connection with the judicial enforcement
of any debt;
any nonprofit organization which, at the request of debtors, performs
bona fide debtor credit counseling and assists debtors in the
liquidation of their debts by receiving payments from such debtors
and distributing such amounts to creditors; and
any person collecting or attempting to collect any debt owed or
due or asserted to be owed or due another to the extent such activity
(I) is incidental to a bona fide fiduciary obligation or a bona
fide escrow arrangement; (ii) concerns a debt which was originated
by such person; (iii) concerns a debt which was not in default
at the time it was obtained by such person; or (iv) concerns a
debt obtained by such person as a secured party in a commercial
credit transaction involving the creditor.
The term Œlocation information' means a debtor's place of abode
and his telephone number at such place, or his place of employment.
The term ŒState' means any State, territory, or possession of the
United States, the District of Columbia, the commonwealth of Puerto
Rico, or any political subdivision of any of the foregoing.
804. Acquisition of location information
debt collector communicating with any person other than the debtor
for the purpose of acquiring location information about the debtor
identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location
information concerning the debtor, and, only if expressly requested,
identify his employer;
not state that such debtor owes any debt;
not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested
to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably
believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous
or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete
not communicate by post card;
not use any language or symbol on any envelope or in the contents
of any communication effected by the mails or telegram that indicates
that the debt collector is in the debt collection business or
that the communication relates to the collection of a debt; and
after the debt collector knows the debtor is represented by an
attorney with regard to the subject debt and has knowledge of,
or can readily ascertain, such attorney's name and address, not
communicate with any person other than that attorney, unless the
attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to
communication from the debt collector.
805. Communication in connection with debt collection
Communication With The Debtor Generally: Without the prior
consent of the debtor given directly to the debt collector or the
express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, a debt
collector may not communicate with a debtor in connection with the
collection of any debt:
at any unusual time or place or a time or place known or which
should be known to be inconvenient to the debtor. In the
absence of knowledge of circumstances to the contrary, a debt
collector shall assume that the convenient time for communicating
with a debtor is after 8 o'clock antemeridian and before 9 o'clock
postmeridian, local time at the debtor's location;
if the debt collector knows the debtor is represented by an attorney
with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily
ascertain, such attorney's name and address, unless the attorney
fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication
from the debt collector or unless the attorney consents to direct
communication with the debtor; or
at the debtor's place of employment if the debt collector knows
or has reason to know that the debtor's employer prohibits the
debtor from receiving such communication.
Communication With Third Parties: Except as provided in section
804, without the prior consent of the debtor given directly to the
debt collector, or the express permission of a court of competent
jurisdiction, or as reasonably necessary to effectuate a postjudgment
judicial remedy, a debt collector may not communicate in connection
with the collection of any debt, with any person other than the
debtor, his attorney, a debtor reporting agency if otherwise permitted
by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney
of the debt collector.
Ceasing Communication: If a debtor notifies a debt collector
in writing that the debtor refuses to pay a debt or that the debtor
wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with
the debtor, the debt collector shall not communicate further with
the debtor with respect to such debt, except:
to advise the debtor that the debt collector's further efforts
are being terminated;
to notify the debtor that the debt collector or creditor may invoke
specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector
or creditor; or
where applicable, to notify the debtor that the debt collector
or creditor intends to invoke a specified remedy. If such
notice from the debtor is made by mail, notification shall be
complete upon receipt.
For the purpose of this section, the term Œdebtor' includes the
debtor's spouse, parent (if the debtor is a minor), guardian, executor,
806. Harassment or abuse
collector may not engage in any conduct the natural consequence
of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection
with the collection of a debt. Without limiting the general
application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation
of this section:
The use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to
harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.
The use of obscene or profane language or language the natural
consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader.
The publication of a list of debtors who allegedly refuse to pay
debts, except to a debtor reporting agency or to persons meeting
the requirements of section 603(f) or 604(3) of this Act.
The advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the
Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone
conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy,
abuse, or harass any person at the called number.
Except as provided in section 804, the placement of telephone
calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity.
807. False or misleading representations.
collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation
or means in connection with the collection of any debt. Without
limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following
conduct is a violation of this section:
The false representation or implication that the debt collector
is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States
or any State, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile
The false representation of:
the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or
any services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully
received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt.
The false representation or implication that any individual is
an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney.
The representation or implication that nonpayment of any debt
will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the
seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages
of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector
or creditor intends to take such action.
The threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or
that is not intended to be taken.
The false representation or implication that a sale, referral,
or other transfer of any interest in a debt shall cause the debtor
lose any claim or defense to payment of the debt; or
become subject to any practice prohibited by this title.
The false representation or implication that the debtor committed
any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the debtor.
Communicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit
information which is known or which should be known to be false,
including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed.
The use or distribution of any written communication which simulates
or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued,
or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States
or any state, or which creates a false impression as to its source,
authorization, or approval.
The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect
or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning
Except as otherwise provided for communications to acquire location
information under section 804, the failure to disclose clearly
in all communications made to collect a debt or to obtain information
about a debtor, that the debt collector is attempting to collect
a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that
The false representation or implication that accounts have been
turned over to innocent purchasers for value.
The false representation or implication that documents are legal
The use of any business, company, or organization name other than
the true name of the debt collector's business, company, or organization.
The false representation or implication that documents are not
legal process form or do not require action by the debtor.
The false representation or implication that a debt collector
operates or is employed by a debtor reporting agency as defined
by section 603(f) of this Act.
808. Unfair practices
debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect
or attempt to collect any debt. Without limiting the general
application of the foregoing, the following conduct is a violation
of this section:
The collection of any amount (including any interest, fee, charge,
or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such
amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt
or permitted by law.
The acceptance by a debt collector from any person of a check
or other payment instrument postdated by more than five days unless
such person is notified in writing of the debt collector's intent
to deposit such check or instrument not more than ten nor less
than three business days prior to such deposit.
The solicitation by a debt collector of any postdated check or
other postdated payment instrument for the purpose of threatening
or instituting criminal prosecution.
Depositing or threatening to deposit any postdated check or other
postdated payment instrument prior to the date on such check or
Causing charges to be made to any person for communications by
concealment of the true purpose of the communication. Such
charges include, but are not limited to, collect telephone calls
and telegram fees.
Taking or threatening to take any nonjudicial action to effect
dispossession or disablement of property if:
there is no present right to possession of the property claimed
as collateral through an enforceable security interest;
there is no present intention to take possession of the property;
the property is exempt by law from such dispossession or disablement.
Communicating with a debtor regarding a debt by post card.
Using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector's
address, on any envelope when communicating with a debtor by use
of the mails or by telegram, except that a debt collector may
use his business name if such name does not indicate that he is
in the debt collection business.
809. Validation of debts
Within five days after the initial communication with a debtor in
connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall,
unless the following information is contained in the initial communication
or the debtor has paid the debt, send the debtor a written notice
the amount of the debt;
the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
a statement that unless the debtor, within thirty days after receipt
of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion
thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;
a statement that if the debtor notifies the debt collector in
writing within the thirty day period that the debt, or any portion
thereof, is disputed, the debt collector will obtain verification
of the debt or a copy of a judgment will be mailed to the debtor
by the debt collector; and
a statement that, upon the debtor's written request within the
thirty day period, the debt collector will provide the debtor
with the name and address of the original creditor, if different
from the current creditor.
If the debtor notifies the debt collector in writing within the
thirty day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or
any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the debtor requests the
name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall
cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until
the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or a copy of
a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and
a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of
the original creditor, is mailed to the debtor by the debt collector.
The failure of a debtor to dispute the validity of a debt under
this section may not be construed by any court as an admission of
liability by the debtor.
810. Multiple debts
any debtor owes multiple debts and makes any single payment to any
debt collector with respect to such debts, such debt collector may
not apply such payment to any debt which is disputed by the debtor
and, where applicable, shall apply such payment in accordance with
the debtor's directions.
811. Legal actions by debt collectors
Any debt collector who brings any legal action on a debt against
any debtor shall:
in the case of an action to enforce an interest in real property
securing the debtor's obligation, bring such action only in a
judicial district or similar legal entity in which such real property
is located; or
in the case of an action not described in paragraph (1), bring
such action only in the judicial district or similar legal entity;
in which such debtor signed the contract sued upon; or
in which such debtor resides at the commencement of the action.
Nothing in this title shall be construed to authorize the bringing
of legal actions by debt collectors.
812. Furnishing certain deceptive forms
It is unlawful to design, compile, and furnish any form knowing
that such form would be used to create the false belief in a debtor
that a person other than the creditor of such debtor is participating
in the collection of or in an attempt to collect a debt such debtor
allegedly owes such creditor, when in fact such person is not so
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 813 for failure to comply with a provision of this title.
813. Civil liability
Except as otherwise provided by this section, any debt collector
who fails to comply with any provision of this title with respect
to any person is liable to such person in an amount equal to the
Any actual damage sustained by such person as a result of such
in the case of any action by an individual, such additional
damages as the court may allow, but not exceeding $1,000; or
in the case of a class action, (I) such amount for each named
plaintiff as could be recovered under subparagraph (A), and
(ii) such amount as the court may allow for all other class
members, without regard to a minimum individual recovery, not
to exceed the lesser of $300,000 or 1 per cent of the net worth
of the debt collector; and
in the case of any successful action to enforce the foregoing
liability, the costs of the action, together with a reasonable
attorney's fee as determined by the court. On a finding
for the purpose of harassment, the court may award to the defendant
attorney's fees reasonable in relation to the work expended and
In determining the amount of liability in any action under subsection
(a), the court shall consider, among other relevant factors:
in any individual action under subsection (a)(2)(A), the frequency
and persistence of noncompliance by the debt collector, the nature
of such noncompliance was intentional; or
in any class action under subsection (a)(2)(B), the frequency
and persistence of noncompliance by the debt collector, the nature
of such noncompliance, the resources of the debt collector, the
number of persons adversely affected, and the extent to which
the debt collector's noncompliance was intentional.
A debt collector may not be held liable in any action brought under
this title if the debt collector shows by a preponderance of evidence
that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona
fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonable
adapted to avoid any such error.
An action to enforce any liability created by this title may be
brought in any appropriate United States district court without
regard to the amount in controversy, or in any other court of competent
jurisdiction, within one year from the date on which the violation
No provision of this section imposing any liability shall apply
to any act done or omitted in good faith in conformity with any
advisory opinion of the commission, notwithstanding that after such
act or omission has occurred, such opinion is amended, rescinded,
or determined by judicial or other authority to be invalid for any
814. Administrative enforcement
with this title shall be enforced by the Commission, except to the
extend that enforcement of the requirements imposed under this title
is specifically committed to another agency under subsection (b).
the purpose of the exercise by the Commission of its functions and
powers under the Federal Trade Commission Act, a violation of this
title shall be deemed an unfair or deceptive act or practice in
violation of that Act. All of the functions and powers of
the Commission under the Federal Trade Commission Act are available
to the Commission to enforce compliance by any person with this
title, irrespective or whether that person is engaged in commerce
or meets any other jurisdictional tests in the Federal Trade Commission
Act, including the power to enforce the provisions of this title
in the same manner as if the violation had been a violation of a
Federal Trade commission trade regulation rule.
Compliance with any requirements imposed under this title shall
be enforced under:
section 8 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, in the case of;
national banks, by the Comptroller of the Currency;
member banks of the Federal Reserve System (other than national
banks), by the Federal Reserve Board; and
banks the deposits or accounts of which are insured by the Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation (other than members of the Federal
Reserve System), by the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit
section 5(d) of the Home Loan Act, by the Federal Home Loan Bank
Board (acting directly or through the Federal Savings and Loan
Insurance Corporation), in the case of any institution subject
to any of those provisions;
the Federal Credit Union Act, by the Administrator of the National
Credit Union Administration with respect to any Federal Credit
the Acts to regulate commerce, by the Interstate Commerce Commission
with respect to any common carrier subject to those Acts;
the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, by the Civil Aeronautics Board
with respect to any air carrier or any foreign air carrier subject
to that Act; and
the Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921 (except as provided in section
406 of that Act), by the Secretary of Agriculture with respect
to any activities subject to that Act.
For the purpose of the exercise by any agency referred to in subsection
(b) of its powers under any Act referred to in that subsection,
a violation of any requirement imposed under this title shall be
deemed to be a violation of a requirement imposed under that Act.
In addition to its powers under any provision of law specifically
referred to in subsection (b), each of the agencies referred to
in that subsection may exercise, for the purpose of enforcing compliance
with any requirement imposed under this title any other authority
conferred on it by law, expect as provide in subsection (d).
Neither the commission nor any other agency referred to in subsection
(b) may promulgate trade regulation rules or other regulations with
respect to the collection of debts by debt collectors ad defined
in this title.
815. Reports to Congress by the Commission
Not later than one year after the effective date of this title and
at one year intervals thereafter, the commission shall make reports
to the Congress concerning the administration of its functions under
this title, including such recommendations as the Commission deems
necessary or appropriate. In addition, each report of the
Commission shall include its assessment of the extent to which compliance
with this title is being achieved and a summary of the enforcement
actions taken by the Commission under section 814 of this title.
816. Relation to State Laws
title does not annul, alter, or affect, or exempt any person subject
to the provisions of this title from complying with the laws of
any state with respect to debt collection practices, except to the
extent that those laws are inconsistent with any provision of this
title, and then only to the extent of the inconsistency. For the
purposes of this section, a state law is not inconsistent with this
title if the protection of such law affords any debtor is greater
that the protection provided by this title.
817. Exemption for State Regulation
Commission shall by regulation exempt from the requirements of this
title any class of debt collection practices within any state if
the Commission determines that under the law of that state that
class of debt collection practices is subject to requirements substantially
similar to those imposed by this title, and that there is adequate
provision for enforcement.
818. Effective date
title takes effect upon the expiration of six months after the date
of its enactment, but section 809 shall apply only with respect
to debts for which the initial attempt to collect occurs after such
September 20, 1977.