Colorado law provides a variety of legal protection against unfair and abusive debt collection practices. One such safeguard is the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (CFDCPA), which applies to debt collectors and collection agencies operating within the state. This act works in conjunction with the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to ensure consumer rights are upheld. If you are a debt collector or debtor, it is beneficial to understand collection protections offered by the Colorado FDCPA and the available options for recourse when facing violations.
The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) serves to shield consumers from intrusive or deceptive tactics employed by debt collectors when attempting to collect debts. It covers debts owed to merchants, credit card companies, or other entities for household purposes. Some prohibited actions under the FDCPA include:
- Workplace Restrictions: Debt collectors cannot contact consumers at their workplace if they are aware that such communications are prohibited by the employer.
- Restrictive Communication: Debt collectors cannot contact consumers at unusual or inconvenient times or engage in relentless calling practices that aim to harass or abuse them.
- False Representations: Collectors are prohibited from misrepresenting the character, amount, or legal status of a debt. They cannot use language or symbols on envelopes or postcards that imply debt collection-related communication.
- Abusive Language: Using obscene, profane language, racial slurs, insulting remarks, or threats of violence against consumers is strictly forbidden.
In the event of an FDCPA violation, consumers may have the right to take legal action and seek financial compensation for damages. However, it’s important to note that a violation does not absolve the debt, and the creditor can still pursue legal avenues to collect it.
Colorado’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
In addition to the FDCPA, Colorado has enacted its own laws that provide additional protection to consumers against abusive and deceptive debt collection practices. The Colorado FDCPA applies to various entities involved in debt collection, including collection agencies, solicitors, and debt collectors. The scope of the Colorado FDCPA is primarily focused on consumer debt collection. However, it is important to note that the law does not typically extend to debts incurred for business, investment, commercial, or agricultural purposes, nor does it cover debts incurred by businesses.
Consumer Protections Under the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The CFDCPA offers several significant protections for consumers:
- Debt Validation: Similar to the federal FDCPA, the Colorado law provides consumers with the right to request debt validation when they receive notice of a debt collection attempt. Debt collectors must verify the debt’s amount and the creditor to whom it is owed. Until verification is provided, the collector or collection agency cannot pursue collection activities.
- Communication Regulations: Debt collectors and collection agencies must adhere to specific rules governing the time, place, and manner of communication with debtors. They are prohibited from contacting consumers during certain hours, and they cannot communicate with consumers represented by an attorney without the attorney’s consent or response within a reasonable timeframe. Contacting consumers at work is also restricted if the collector knows or should know that the employer prohibits such communication.
- Cease Communication Rights: Consumers have the right to request that debt collectors cease communication altogether. By sending a written notice to the collector, consumers can stop further contact, providing relief from persistent or distressing collection attempts. However, prior to deploying this right, it is wise to speak with an attorney experienced in debt collection.
- Prohibition of Unfair Practices: The CFDCPA prohibits debt collectors from employing unfair or unconscionable methods in their collection efforts. Such unfair practices encompass actions like collecting amounts beyond what the credit agreement permits and taking or threatening to seize or disable property without a valid legal basis to do so.
- Prohibition of False or Misleading Practices: It is strictly prohibited for debt collectors or collection agencies to imply any affiliation with the state or United States government. Making false representations regarding the amount or status of the debt is also forbidden. Furthermore, falsely representing the legal consequences or remedies for nonpayment of the debt is not allowed. Debt collectors are prohibited from claiming that the debtor has committed a crime or engaged in disgraceful conduct. Lastly, they cannot falsely represent or imply that they are employed by a credit reporting agency.
- Prohibition of Harassment: Under the Colorado FDCPA, debt collectors are prohibited from using or threatening violence, including harm to a person’s reputation or property. The use of obscene or profane language is also strictly forbidden. Publishing lists of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts is not allowed. Additionally, it is unlawful for debt collectors to engage in continuous and repetitive calling with the intention to annoy, abuse, or harass individuals. Moreover, the debt collector must disclose their identity once the other party is identified as the debtor.
Legal Recourse for Violations of the CFDCPA
If a consumer believes a debt collector or collection agency has violated the CFDCPA, there are several avenues for recourse:
- File a Complaint: Consumers can file a complaint with the Colorado Attorney General’s office, which has the authority to investigate violations and take appropriate action against the offender.
- Civil Lawsuit: Consumers may choose to bring a civil lawsuit against the debt collector or collection agency.
Burnham Law is your go-to source for professional legal assistance, serving both individual debtors and debt collectors. Our experienced team is well-versed in the intricacies of debt collection laws and can provide comprehensive guidance and representation tailored to your specific needs.
If you’re an individual debtor facing unfair or abusive debt collection practices, our dedicated attorneys will fight for your rights, ensuring that you are treated fairly and that your interests are protected throughout the process. We will work diligently to challenge improper debt collection techniques and seek appropriate remedies on your behalf.
Likewise, if you’re a debt collector seeking reliable legal support to navigate the complex landscape of debt collection, Burnham Law is here to assist you. Our knowledgeable attorneys will provide strategic counsel and advocate for your interests, ensuring compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.
Don’t face the challenges of debt collection alone. Contact Burnham Law today to schedule a consultation and discover how our expertise can make a difference in your case. We are committed to providing effective and efficient legal representation.