Legal Discussion: Debt Collection –15 U.S.C. § 1692e — False or misleading representations

Federal law prohibits debt collectors from making false or misleading representations when they attempt to collect debts.

15 U.S.C. § 1692e. False or misleading representations

A debt collector may not use any false, deceptive, or misleading
representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.
Without limiting the general application of the foregoing, the following
conduct is a violation of this section:
(1) The false representation or implication that the debt collector is
vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any State,
including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof.
(2) The false representation of —
(A) the character, amount, or legal status of any debt; or
(B) any services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully
received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt.
(3) The false representation or implication that any individual is an
attorney or that any communication is from an attorney.
(4) The representation or implication that nonpayment of any debt will
result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure,
garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person
unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to
take such action.
(5) The threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that
is not intended to be taken.
(6) The false representation or implication that a sale, referral, or
other transfer of any interest in a debt shall cause the consumer to —
(A) lose any claim or defense to payment of the debt; or
(B) become subject to any practice prohibited by this subchapter.
(7) The false representation or implication that the consumer committed
any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the consumer.
(8) Communicating or threatening to communicate to any person credit
information which is known or which should be known to be false, including
the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed.
(9) The use or distribution of any written communication which
simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued,
or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any
State, or which creates a false impression as to its source,
authorization, or approval.
(10) The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect
or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a
consumer.
(11) The failure to disclose in the initial written communication with
the consumer and, in addition, if the initial communication with the
consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt
collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information
obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in
subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector,
except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in
connection with a legal action.
(12) The false representation or implication that accounts have been
turned over to innocent purchasers for value.
(13) The false representation or implication that documents are legal or its affiliates
consumer is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt
collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information
obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in
subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector,
except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in
connection with a legal action.
(14) The use of any business, company, or organization name other than
the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization.
(15) The false representation or implication that documents are not
legal process forms or do not require action by the consumer.
(16) The false representation or implication that a debt collector
operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency as defined by
section 1681a(f) of this title.

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