In Idaho, debt collectors are regulated by both the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Idaho’s collection agency law. Both laws prohibit unfair and deceptive collection tactics. The Idaho law also requires that certain debt collectors obtain a license. Learn more about the Idaho debt collection law and what you can do if a debt collector violates it.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law, which means that it applies to debt collectors in every state, including Idaho. Generally speaking, the FDCPA prohibits unfair or deceptive practices when debt collectors attempt to collect debts. It also limits the times and places in which they can contact you. The FDCPA does necessarily not apply to every type of debt collector, however. This article does not discuss the FDCPA in detail because it focuses on Idaho law. If you would like to learn more about the FDCPA, please visit our section on Illegal Debt Collection Practices.
The Idaho Collection Agency Law
Idaho residents are protected by the Idaho collection agency law in addition to the FDCPA. The Idaho law does not apply to every type of debt collector. But when it does apply, debt collectors must be licensed and they must not use deceptive practices when collecting debts.
Who Is a Debt Collector Under the Idaho Collection Agency Law
There are many different types of debt collectors, so it’s important to first ask whether the debt collector is required to comply with the Idaho collection agency law. The following types of debt collectors must be licensed:
- collection agencies
- any other person or company that collects debt payments for others
- companies or individuals who offer to counsel you on your debt or offer credit repair services, and
- companies who are attempting to collect their own debts if they bought the debt from another company and you were delinquent on the debt at the time they bought it.
The Idaho law does not regulate every person or company who attempts to collect a debt in Idaho. The law explicitly exempts the following types of debt collectors, among a few others:
- attorneys (unless they are in the business of collecting debt)
- billing services that simply process your payments or send out statements
- lenders, banks, escrow, and mortgage companies, and
- telephone companies.
The Idaho law does not apply to original creditors. For example, if a bank is contacting you to make payments on a loan that it extended to you, then it does not need to be licensed as a debt collector in Idaho or comply with the collection agency law. However, if the bank hires a collection agency to act as its debt collector, then that collection agency must obtain a license and comply with Idaho law.
Debt Collectors Must Be Licensed
If a debt collector falls within Idaho’s definition of regulated debt collectors, then it must obtain a license from the state before it attempts to collect a debt from you. The debt collector has to complete an application, pay a fee, and post a bond. Udner Idaho law, debt collectors may be subject to criminal penalties if they collect debts without a license.
In addition to requiring a license, the Idaho collection agency law requires debt collectors to actually maintain a physical office in the state and requires the office to be open during regular business hours.
Prohibited Debt Collection Practices
The Idaho debt collection prohibits certain types of collection practices and imposes duties of fair dealing on debt collectors. Below are some of these requirements and obligations.
Honest and fair dealing. Under the Idaho collection agency law, licensed debt collectors are required to “deal openly, fairly, and honestly without deception” when they attempt to collect debts. Similarly, they cannot make any false statements to you when they attempt to collect a debt.
No unauthorized fees. A debt collector cannot collect interest and fees unless the fees are permitted under your contract with the original creditor or some other law permits it to collect the additional amount.
No false impression that it is connected to the government. The Idaho collection agency law prohibits debt collectors from using a trade name, an address, a logo, or anything else that creates an impression that they are connected with a government agency, including the police.
No fake court documents. Debt collectors are also prohibited from sending you documents that look like court documents if they are not real court documents.
What You Can Do If a Debt Collector Violates the Idaho Collection Agency Law
If you think a debt collector has violated the Idaho collection agency law, you can take the following steps.
Contact the Idaho Department of Finance. The Department of Finance regulates debt collectors and allows you to file a complaint online at www.finance.idaho.gov. Keep in mind that state agencies cannot represent you individually, and this department may or may not act on your complaint. It may, however, forward your complaint to the debt collector.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the FDCPA. You can contact it online at the FTC Complaint Assistant.
Sue the debt collector. It is not clear whether you can sue a debt collector under the Idaho collection agency law. Because this area of the law is unclear, you should consider contacting an attorney familiar with the Idaho collection agency law. However, you can sue a debt collector for a violation of the FDCPA
Getting More Information
The Idaho collection agency law appears in the Idaho Code starting at § 26-2222. (To learn how to find state statutes, visit Nolo’s Legal Research Center.)