In 1978, the federal government adds The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act to account for rising debt problems. They are designed to protect individuals and businesses throughout the debt collection process, debt settlements, and lawsuits. They are especially concerned with stopping the harassment of debt collectors. As the number of Americans in debt continues to rise, debt collectors are becoming more aggressive, increasing the importance of these regulations.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act are followed closely in Pennsylvania, as the core set of regulations for all laws relating to debt collection. But they have also taken these acts a step further, creating the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act. This act attempts to control certain practices missed by the federal regulations. Debts in Pennsylvania can legally hold an interest rate no higher than 6%. Any rates above that are considered usury, and a rate of 25% or more is deemed criminal usury in Pennsylvania, resulting in major fines and possible incarceration.
Varying from state to state, a statute of limitations applies to collection of all forms of debt. These time limits restrict the time for raising charges for a violation. For debts, they begin on the date of the first missed payment, rather than the previous realized payment. In addition, these limits apply to the original place of contract creation, regardless of where the individual lives. Pennsylvania's limits are:
Unlike most states, there is no legal wage garnishment except by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue to recover tax debts from an individual. This can be done without a court order, and when occurring, employers are compensated for the additional book keeping at 2% of the garnished amount. In addition, with additional protection by the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, there are hundreds of specific collection practices liable to be illegal, warranting fees at the federally set rate of up to $1,000. However, these are not cumulative per violation in Rhode Island.
Debt harassment is strongly dealt with in Pennsylvania, as seen by the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act passed to add increased protection from creditors. This act along with federal regulations from The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act outline the actions considered harassment and the penalties for such actions. A lawsuit of debt harassment will thoroughly distinguish any illegal actions and assess the penalties of up to $1,000 per violation along with court fee payments.
Debt settlement and negotiation are enticing options for individuals in debt, as they are touted as quick and effective solutions to financial problems, especially by debt settlement organizations. However, these organizations are often dangerous choices that can end up costing the debtor much more money than their actual debt. When negotiations take place to settle debts directly with the creditor, such as a credit card company, fair and manageable payment plans can often be arranged. Usually, the plan can be tailored to any individual, including one or more lump sum payments and possibly continued payments at a decreased rate. A properly conducted debt negotiation such as this is very advantageous.
Outstanding debts can create many complications for an individual's financial status, and contract negotiations are very intricate. Invalid interest rates may be charged without the knowledge of the debtor, and is often very difficult to detect because of unfair business practices. Furthermore, debt collection practices are often annoying and can be deceiving. With an experience Pennsylvania debt settlement lawyer, communications can no longer be made by collectors directly to the debtor. The lawyer mediates both sides and effectively maintains fair assessments for both parties to create the best-suited renegotiation options.