amend the Consumer Credit Protection Act to prohibit abusive practices by debt
it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled, That the Consumer Credit Protection Act (15
U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new
VIII - DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES [Fair Debt Collection Practices Act]
801. Short Title
802. Congressional findings and
declaration of purpose
804. Acquisition of location
805. Communication in
connection with debt collection
806. Harassment or abuse
807. False or misleading
808. Unfair practice
809. Validation of debts
810. Multiple debts
811. Legal actions by debt
812. Furnishing certain
813. Civil liability
814. Administrative enforcement
815. Reports to Congress by the
816. Relation to State laws
817. Exemption for State
818. Effective date
801. Short Title
[15 USC 1601 note]
title may be cited as the "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act."
Congressional findings and declarations of purpose [15 USC 1692]
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
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 instrumentalities of such commerce.
Even where abusive debt collection practices are purely intrastate in
character, they nevertheless directly affect interstate commerce.
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 consumers against debt
[15 USC 1692a]
used in this title --
The term "Commission" means the Federal Trade Commission.
The term "communication" means the conveying of information
regarding a debt directly or indirectly to any person through any medium.
The term "consumer" means any natural person obligated or
allegedly obligated to pay any debt.
The term "creditor" means any person who offers or extends credit
creating a 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 "debt" 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 "debt 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 of
which is the enforcement of security interests. The term does not include --
any officer or employee of a creditor while, in the name of the creditor,
collecting debts 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 of debts;
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
his 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 consumers, performs
bona fide consumer credit counseling and assists consumers in the
liquidation of their debts by receiving payments from such consumers 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 "location information" means a consumer's place of abode
and his telephone number at such place, or his place of employment.
The term "State" 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.
of location information [15 USC 1692b]
debt collector communicating with any person other than the consumer for the
purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer shall --
identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location
information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested,
identify his employer;
not state that such consumer 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 location information;
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 consumer 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 the communication from the debt collector.
Communication in connection with debt collection [15 USC 1692c]
COMMUNICATION WITH THE CONSUMER GENERALLY. Without the prior consent of
the consumer given directly to the debt collector or the express permission of
a court of competent jurisdiction, a debt collector may not communicate with a
consumer 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 consumer. In the absence of knowledge of
circumstances to the contrary, a debt collector shall assume that the
convenient time for communicating with a consumer is after 8 o'clock
antimeridian and before 9 o'clock postmeridian, local time at the consumer's
if the debt collector knows the consumer 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 consumer; or
at the consumer's place of employment if the debt collector knows or has
reason to know that the consumer's employer prohibits the consumer from
receiving such communication.
COMMUNICATION WITH THIRD PARTIES. Except as provided in section 804,
without the prior consent of the consumer 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 a consumer, his attorney, a consumer 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 consumer notifies a debt collector in
writing that the consumer refuses to pay a debt or that the consumer wishes
the debt collector to cease further communication with the consumer, the debt
collector shall not communicate further with the consumer with respect to such
debt, except --
to advise the consumer that the debt collector's further efforts are being
to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke
specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or
where applicable, to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor
intends to invoke a specified remedy.
such notice from the consumer is made by mail, notification shall be complete
For the purpose of this section, the term "consumer" includes the
consumer's spouse, parent (if the consumer is a minor), guardian, executor, or
or abuse [15 USC 1692d]
debt 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 consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts,
except to a consumer reporting agency or to persons meeting the requirements
of section 603(f) or 604(3)1
of this Act.
The advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt.
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 [15 USC 1692e]
debt 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
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 thereof.
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
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 consumer to --
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 consumer committed any
crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer.
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 a consumer.
The failure to disclose in the initial written communication with the
consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the consumer is
oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is
attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used
for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications
that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph
shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.
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 process.
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
forms or do not require action by the consumer.
The false representation or implication that a debt collector operates or is
employed by a consumer reporting agency as defined by section 603(f) of this
practices [15 USC 1692f]
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
The solicitation by a debt collector of any postdated check or other
postdated payment instrument for the purpose of threatening or instituting
Depositing or threatening to deposit any postdated check or other postdated
payment instrument prior to the date on such check or instrument.
Causing charges to be made to any person for communications by concealment
of the true propose 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; or
the property is exempt by law from such dispossession or disablement.
Communicating with a consumer 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 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.
of debts [15 USC 1692g]
Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in connection
with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the following
information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has paid
the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing --
the amount of the debt;
the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
a statement that unless the consumer, 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 consumer 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 against the consumer and a copy of such verification or
judgment will be mailed to the consumer by the debt collector; and
a statement that, upon the consumer's written request within the thirty-day
period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and
address of the original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
If the consumer 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 consumer 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 any 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 consumer by the debt collector.
The failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt under this section
may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the
debts [15 USC 1692h]
any consumer 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 consumer and, where applicable,
shall apply such payment in accordance with the consumer's directions.
actions by debt collectors [15 USC 1692i]
Any debt collector who brings any legal action on a debt against any consumer
in the case of an action to enforce an interest in real property securing
the consumer'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 consumer signed the contract sued upon; or
in which such consumer resides at the commencement of the action.
Nothing in this title shall be construed to authorize the bringing of legal
actions by debt collectors.
certain deceptive forms [15 USC 1692j]
It is unlawful to design, compile, and furnish any form knowing that such form
would be used to create the false belief in a consumer that a person other
than the creditor of such consumer is participating in the collection of or in
an attempt to collect a debt such consumer allegedly owes such creditor, when
in fact such person is not so participating.
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.
liability [15 USC 1692k]
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 sum of --
any actual damage sustained by such person as a result of such failure;
(A) 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 $500,000 or 1 per centum
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 by the court that an action under this section
was brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, the court may
award to the defendant attorney's fees reasonable in relation to the work
expended and costs.
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, and the extent to which such noncompliance was intentional;
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 reasonably 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 occurs.
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 reason.
Administrative enforcement [15 USC 1692l]
Compliance 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). For 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 of 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
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 Insurance Corporation;
section 5(d) of the Home Owners Loan Act of 1933, section 407 of the
National Housing Act, and sections 6(i) and 17 of the Federal Home Loan Bank
Act, by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (acting directing 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 union;
subtitle IV of Title 49, by the Interstate Commerce Commission with respect
to any common carrier subject to such subtitle;
the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, by the Secretary of Transportation with
respect to any air carrier or any foreign air carrier subject to that Act;
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, except as provided 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 as defined in this title.
815. Reports to
Congress by the Commission [15 USC 1692m]
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
In the exercise of its functions under this title, the Commission may obtain
upon request the views of any other Federal agency which exercises enforcement
functions under section 814 of this title.
816. Relation to
State laws [15 USC 1692n]
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 purposes of this section, a State law is not
inconsistent with this title if the protection such law affords any consumer
is greater than the protection provided by this title.
for State regulation [15 USC 1692o]
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.
date [15 USC 1692 note]
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 effective date.
September 20, 1977
So in original; however, should read "604(a)(3)."
Law 95-109 [H.R. 5294]
REPORT No. 95-131 (Comm. on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs).
REPORT No. 95-382 (Comm. on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs).
RECORD, Vol. 123 (1977):
4, considered and passed House.
5, considered and passed Senate, amended.
8, House agreed to Senate amendment.
COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS, Vol. 13, No. 39:
20, Presidential statement.
621, SUBSECTIONS (b)(3), (b)(4) and (b)(5) were amended to transfer certain
administrative enforcement responsibilities, pursuant to Pub. L. 95-473, §
3(b), Oct. 17, 1978. 92 Stat. 166; Pub. L. 95-630, Title V. § 501, November
10, 1978, 92 Stat. 3680; Pub. L. 98-443, § 9(h), Oct. 4, 1984, 98 Stat. 708.
803, SUBSECTION (6), defining "debt collector," was amended to
repeal the attorney at law exemption at former Section (6)(F) and to
redesignate Section 803(6)(G) pursuant to Pub. L. 99-361, July 9, 1986, 100
Stat. 768. For legislative history, see H.R. 237, HOUSE REPORT No.
99-405 (Comm. on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs). CONGRESSIONAL RECORD:
Vol. 131 (1985): Dec. 2, considered and passed House. Vol. 132 (1986): June
26, considered and passed Senate.
807, SUBSECTION (11), was amended to affect when debt collectors must state
(a) that they are attempting to collect a debt and (b) that information
obtained will be used for that purpose, pursuant to Pub. L. 104-208 § 2305,
110 Stat. 3009 (Sept. 30, 1996).