Many of us have heard about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a statute that poses very strong guidelines towards the debt collection industry. However, how many of you are aware of its Pennsylvania counterpart, the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA), which imposes similar restrictions upon debt collectors? You can explore more at 73 P.S § 2270.1 et seq.
Under the FCEUA, a Pennsylvania resident who owes or is alleged to owe a debt is referred to as a ‘Consumer’. Whereas, a ‘Creditor’ is someone (a person or business, including employees and agents working under it) to whom a debt is owed.
A ‘Debt’ is either a veritable or alleged obligation incurred due to purchase, lease, or loan of goods, services or personal property for personal, family, or household purposes. While the definition doesn’t include taxes owed to the United States or Pennsylvania, you are obligated to repay taxes, interest and penalties owed to the political subdivisions.
Now, as we already know that the FCEUA applies to creditors and certain types of debt, we will go ahead and discuss what Acts or practices are considered deceptive or illegal and for which a creditor can be prosecuted.
Note: While the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA) of Pennsylvania is mainly applicable for persons or businesses collecting their own debts, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) applies mainly to those persons or businesses who are collection agencies or collect debts for others.
As per the Act, the following prohibitions apply to the creditors.
A. “Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices”
1. As per the Act, a creditor, while communicating with a 3rd party to get location information of the debtor, 73 P.S. § 2270.4(b)(1)
2. Any communication with the debtor 73 P.S. § 2270.4(b)(2)
B. “Harass, Oppress or Abuse” 73 P.S. § 2270.4(b)(4).
C. “False, Deceptive or Misleading Representations or Means” 73 P.S. § 2270.4(b)(5).
As per the act, a creditor, while communicating with the debtor, cannot
D. “Unfair or unconscionable means” 73 P.S. § 2270.4(b)(6)
Violation of FCEUA is also a violation of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law at 73 P.S. § 201-9.2, which offers you actual damages or $100 for each violation (whichever is higher). Also, the court has the discretionary rights to award the debtor threefold damages, costs, and reasonable attorney fees.