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Copyright (c) 1978 Tulane University
Tulane Law Review

COMMENT: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act--The Consumer's Answer to Abusive Collection Practices

April, 1978

Tulane Law Review

52 Tul. L. Rev. 584


John Tavormina


Recent recessions and increased inflation have created severe hardships for unwary consumers in our credit oriented society. Debtors who fall into arrears because of unforseen circumstances often become victims of harsh and abrasive collection practices. 1 The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 2 the first consumer protection bill passed by the 95th Congress, is aimed at eliminating the harassment and deception currently utilized by certain debt collection agencies. 3 The purpose of this comment is to explore the provisions and legislative history of the Act, to evaluate its social impact, and to suggest feasible changes in the statutory structure that would better accommodate the interests of consumers and honest debt collectors.


The history of federal credit legislation in the United States can be traced to the Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968, 4 which regulates the terms and conditions of credit transactions. 5 Prior to the enactment of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, however, the specific activities of debt collection agencies were only indirectly regulated by the federal government. For example, Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act 6 authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to penalize debt collectors whose harassment or misrepresentations constitute unfair methods of competition or deceptive trade practices. 7 In addition, section 223 of the Communications Act of 1934 8 contains provisions prohibiting the making of annoying, threatening, and abusive telephone calls; 9 and the Postal Service may prosecute debt collectors for offenses falling within the ...
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