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H.R. 5294 (95th): Debt Collection Practices Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

8/2/1977--Reported to Senate amended. (Reported to Senate from the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with amendment, S. Rept. 95-382) Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - Declares the findings of Congress that collection abuses by independent debt collectors are serious and widespread and that existing State laws are inadequate to curb these abuses. Prohibits a debt collector when contacting third persons to locate a consumer from: (1) stating that the consumer owes a debt; (2) contacting the third person more than once unless reasonably necessary; or (3) using language symbols on mail indicating that it pertains to debt collection. Prohibits a debt collector from contacting a third person if the debt collector knows that the consumer is represented by an attorney and has the attorney's name and address. Prohibits a debt collector, without the consumer's consent, from: (1) contacting a consumer at any unusual or inconvenient time or place; (2) contacting a consumer if represented by an attorney; or (3) calling a consumer at work if the debt collector knows the consumer's employer prohibits such calls. Provides that if a consumer notifies a debt collector in writing that he refuses to pay a debt or wishes the debt collector to cease further contacts, the debt collector must cease communications except to notify the consumer of the debt collector's or creditor's possible further actions. Prohibits a debt collector from engaging in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress or abuse any person. Prohibits a debt collector from using any false, deceptive or misleading representations to collect debts; or from using any unfair or unconscionable means to collect debts. Requires the debt collector, within five days after contacting a consumer, to notify in writing the consumer of the amount of the debt and the name of the creditor and advise the consumer of the debt collector's duty to verify the debt if it is disputed. Prohibits a debt collector from applying payments to disputed debts and, where applicable, requires applying payments in accordance with the consumer's directions. Makes it unlawful to compile, design, and furnish forms knowing that they will be used to create the false impression that a third person is collecting a debt. Subjects a debt collector who violates the Act to actual damages plus costs and reasonable attorney's fees. Empowers the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal bank regulatory bodies to use all their functions and powers to enforce compliance.