March 9, 2022
(Anchorage, AK) – Collection agents can use a variety of ways to engage with consumers to collect a debt, though Alaskans should be aware of the types of tactics that are illegal under federal and state laws.
The Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Alaska’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act prevent debt collectors from using unfair and deceptive practices when collecting debt . However, these consumer protections do not forgive legitimate debts, and the best way to avoid debt collectors altogether is to make timely payments on debts owed.
Questions about debt collection practices are among the most common from consumers at the Alaska Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit. On National Consumer Protection Week, Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor reminded consumers of their rights under the law.
“No one deserves to be harassed or threatened. There are many legitimate ways for debt collectors to work, and most debt collection agencies obey the law,” Attorney General Taylor said. law protects consumers from rogue actors who resort to illegal tactics.”
Under federal and state debt collection laws:
- Debt collectors should not threaten violence, use obscene language and profanity, or call repeatedly with the intent to harass or annoy.
- Collection agents cannot make false or misleading statements, such as claiming a lawsuit has been filed when it has not, threatening to garnish wages without the legal authority to do so , claiming to be a lawyer when they are not, stating or implying that failure to pay the debt will result in jail time or criminal prosecution, or falsely implying that the documents are legal documents when ‘They are not.
- Federal law prohibits a debt collector from contacting consumers in their workplace if they know it is prohibited by an employer; and debt collectors cannot contact a consumer between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. unless the consumer has first agreed.
- Once a debt collector makes initial contact with a debtor, the collector must send written notice of the amount of debt and creditor owed within five days.
- Collectors may not attempt to collect a debt that a consumer disputes in writing within 30 days of receiving initial notice of a valid debt. Collectors must post written verification of a debt before they can resume collection efforts.
For more information on federal and state debt collection laws, visit the Alaska Consumer Protection Unit Debt Collections resource or ftc.gov.
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Department media contact: Communications Director Aaron Sadler.