Exactly who is trying to get me to pay up? The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was written in the 1970s and provided many protections for consumers. There are strict rules and regulations that a collector has to abide by, and if any of these regulations are violated, there is a good chance that you could sue that agency. But what about that friend of yours who owes you five bucks? Do you have to grant them thirty days to refute the claim? Obviously, you do not.

The point is that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is applicable to debt collectors, and only debt collectors. Consider Morency v. Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Corp, a district court case in Illinois from 1999. In an attempt to collect debt, a hospital mailed out pre-collection notices, which is a no-no for third party collectors. But the court ruled that the hospital was only a creditor, not a collection agency, so the FDCPA did not apply to it.

Courts take many factors into consideration to figure out whether the creditor should be deemed the actual debt collector. A collection agency’s participation in the actual debt collection would have to be minute. Is the collection agency a mere mailing service? Do the letters state if the debtor does not pay the debt will be referred for collection? Is the collection agency paid only for sending letters, rather than commission?

If the collection company does not get any payments or forwards payments to the creditor, that could look suspicious. If a debtor fails to respond to the letter and the collection agency has no further contact with the debtor, or if it does not receive the files of the debtors, they probably aren’t going to be considered debt collection agencies.

The lesson is that it is important that you know who you are paying your money to. It’s always wise to be vigilant when it comes to your finances.

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