Consumer Legal Rights

By Definition: (redirected to) Consumer protection laws are federal and state statutes governing sales and credit practices involving consumer goods. Such statutes prohibit and regulate deceptive or unconscionable advertising and sales practices, product quality, credit financing and reporting, debt collection, leases, and other aspects of consumer transactions.

Outlined below is a brief description of some of those legal rights, mainly the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  For a more comprehensive viewing of this information and other legal consumer rights and Acts, visit The United States Federal Trade Commission website at

  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Fair Credit Billing Act
  • Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act
  • Credit Card Act of 2009
  • Telemarketing Sales Rule: R411001

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”)

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (aka FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq., is a United States Statute added in 1978 as Title VIII of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Its purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information’s accuracy. The Act creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the Act. It is sometimes used in conjunction with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Act prohibits certain types of “abusive and deceptive” conduct when attempting to collect debts, including the following:

  • Hours for phone contact: contacting consumers by telephone outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time[2]
  • Failure to cease communication upon request: communicating with consumers in any way (other than litigation) after receiving written notice that said consumer wishes no further communication or refuses to pay the alleged debt, with certain exceptions, including advising that collection efforts are being terminated or that the collector intends to file a lawsuit or pursue other remedies where permitted[3]
  • 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.[4]
  • Communicating with consumers at their place of employment after having been advised that this is unacceptable or prohibited by the employer[5]
  • Contacting consumer known to be represented by an attorney[6]
  • Communicating with consumer after request for validation has been made: communicating with the consumer or the pursuing collection efforts by the debt collector after receipt of a consumer’s written request for verification of a debt made within the 30 day validation period (or for the name and address of the original creditor on a debt) and before the debt collector mails the consumer the requested verification or original creditor’s name and address[7]
  • Misrepresentation or deceit: misrepresenting the debt or using deception to collect the debt, including a debt collector’s misrepresentation that he or she is an attorney or law enforcement officer[8]
  • Publishing the consumer’s name or address on a “bad debt” list[9]
  • Seeking unjustified amounts, which would include demanding any amounts not permitted under an applicable contract or as provided under applicable law[10]
  • Threatening arrest or legal action that is either not permitted or not actually contemplated[11]
  • Abusive or profane language used in the course of communication related to the debt[12]
  • Communication with third parties: revealing or discussing the nature of debts with third parties (other than the consumer’s spouse or attorney) [13]
  • Contact by embarrassing media, such as communicating with a consumer regarding a debt by post card, or using any language or symbol, other than the debt collector’s address, on any envelope when communicating with a consumer 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 [14][15]
  • Reporting false information on a consumer’s credit report or threatening to do so in the process of collection[16]

Further, the FDCPA requires debt collectors to:

  • Identify themselves and notify the consumer, in every communication, that the communication is from a debt collector, and in the initial communication that any information obtained will be used to effect collection of the debt[17]
  • Give the name and address of the original creditor (company to which the debt was originally payable) upon the consumer’s written request made within 30 days of receipt of the §1692g notice;[18]
  • Notify the consumer of their right to dispute the debt, in part or in full, with the debt collector. The 30-day “§1692g” notice is required to be sent by debt collectors within five days of the initial communication with the consumer, though in 2006 the definition of “initial communication” was amended to exclude “a formal pleading in a civil action” for purposes of triggering the §1692g notice, [19] complicating the matter where the debt collector is an attorney or law firm. The consumer’s receipt of this notice starts the clock running on the 30-day right to demand verification of the debt from the debt collector. [20]
  • Provide verification of the debt [21] If a consumer sends a written dispute or request for verification within 30 days of receiving the §1692g notice, then the debt collector must either mail the consumer the requested verification information or cease collection efforts altogether. Such asserted disputes must also be reported by the creditor to any credit bureau that reports the debt. Consumers may still dispute a debt verbally or after the thirty-day period has elapsed, but doing so waives the right to compel the debt collector to produce verification of the debt. Verification should include at a minimum the amount owed and the name and address of the original creditor. [22]
  • File a Lawsuit in a proper venue – a debt collector may file a lawsuit, if at all, only in a place where the consumer lives or signed the contract[23]

Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”)

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.) that regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, including consumer credit information. Along with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act(FDCPA), it forms the base of consumer credit rights in the United States. It was originally passed in 1970 and is enforced by the US Federal Trade Commission and private litigants. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1681(v), as amended)

The Act protects information collected by consumer reporting agencies such as credit bureaus, medical information companies and tenant screening services. Information in a consumer report cannot be provided to anyone who does not have a purpose specified in the Act. Companies that provide information to consumer reporting agencies also have specific legal obligations, including the duty to investigate disputed information. Also, users of the information for credit, insurance, or employment purposes must notify the consumer when an adverse action is taken on the basis of such reports. Further, users must identify the company that provided the report, so that the accuracy and completeness of the report may be verified or contested by the consumer.

Consumer Reporting Agencies(CRA) are entities that collect and disseminate information about consumers to be used for credit evaluation and certain other purposes, including employment. Credit bureaus, a type of consumer reporting agency, hold a consumer’s credit report in their databases. CRAs (the big three are Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) have a number of responsibilities under FCRA, including the following:

  1. Provide a consumer with information about him or her in the agency’s files and to take steps to verify the accuracy of information disputed by a consumer. Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), an amendment to the FCRA passed in 2003, consumers are able to receive one free credit report a year.
  2. If negative information is removed as a result of a consumer’s dispute, it may not be reinserted without notifying the consumer within five days, in writing.
  3. CRAs may not retain negative information for an excessive period. The FCRA describes how long negative information, such as late payments, bankruptcies, tax liens, judgments or may stay on a consumer’s credit report — typically seven years from the date of the delinquency.

Click on the link below to read in full detail your rights under those Acts or at the United States Federal Trade Commission website,

  1. 15 U.S.C. § 1692c
  2. 15 U.S.C. § 1692g
  3. 15 U.S.C. § 1692e
  4. 15 U.S.C. § 1692
  5. 15 U.S.C. § 1692f
  6. 15 U.S.C. § 1692e
  7. 15 U.S.C. § 1692d
  8. 15 U.S.C. § 1692c
  9. 15 U.S.C. § 1692f
  10. 15 U.S.C. § 1692f
  11. 15 U.S.C. § 1692e
  12. 15 U.S.C. § 1692
  13. 15 U.S.C. § 1692
  14. 15 U.S.C. § 1692
  15. 15 U.S.C. § 1692(b)
  16. 15 U.S.C. § 1692a
  17. 15 U.S.C. § 1692b
  18. 15 U.S.C. § 1692i

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