While insurmountable debt can indeed be challenging for almost anyone to deal with, debt collectors often make things much worse with their incessant phone calls and menacing letters. However, even though many individuals in Texas know that the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) does provide some protection from harassing debt collectors, many others are surprised to discover that Texas actually has some of its own laws directed at dealing with ruthless creditors.
For instance, the Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA) prohibits debt collectors from engaging in all sorts of questionable practices. Specifically, under the TDCA, debt collectors may not harass, abuse or oppress by individual by:
- Making continuous or repeated calls to an individual’s telephone, or causing the telephone to ring continuously or repeatedly, with the intent to harass
- Using obscene or profane language
- Making telephone calls without disclosing the name of the debt collector, with the intent to harass, threaten or simply annoy
- Causing an individual to incur some type of communication’s charge, such as long distance telephone tolls, without first disclosing the name of the debt collector
Additionally, the TDCA also bars debt collectors from using threats or coercion that employ any of the following practices:
- Threats that a debtor will be arrested for his or her debt without appropriate court proceedings
- Threats that a criminal charge will be filed against the debtor when he or she has not actually violated any criminal law
- False accusations that an individual engaged in fraud or any other form criminal conduct
- The use, or the threatened use, of violence to cause harm to an individual or to his or her property
However, the prohibitions listed above are merely a small sampling of the actions forbidden under the Texas Debt Collection Act. Interestingly, if debt collector ultimately violates any of these prohibitions, a victim may sue for damages under the TDCA. Additionally, Texas law also clearly states that any violation of the TDCA is considered a deceptive trade practice – meaning the victim can also seek recourse through the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act.
Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that just because an individual attempts to hold unscrupulous debt collectors accountable using Texas law, that does not suggest he or she cannot pursue the remedies available through the FDCPA. Indeed, both Texas and federal laws are commonly used in conjunction with one another to keep harassing debt collectors at bay. However, it is typically best to consult with an experienced consumer protection attorney if you wish to learn more about the protections afforded under these laws.