Massachusetts, like many states, has comprehensive legislation regulating the collection of consumer debt. The Massachusetts statute is M.G.L. c. 93 § 49. Any violation of the general debt collection statute is considered an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” under the Consumer Protection Act or M.G.L. c. 93A. Massachusetts Attorney General’s Regulations also regulate the collection of consumer debt. The specific A.G. regulation is 940 CMR 7.00. It sets forth certain practices as per se unfair or deceptive acts or practices, in connection with the collection of consumer debt in Massachusetts. Finally, there are also regulations from the Massachusetts Division of Banks, which prohibit unfair debt collection practices by debt collection agencies. Those are: 209 CMR 18.00.
The Massachusetts Debt Collection Law: M.G.L. Chapter 93 § 49. Debt collection in an unfair, deceptive or unreasonable manner.
No one who is a creditor or an attorney for a creditor, or an assignee of a creditor, of a natural person present or residing in Massachusetts who has incurred a debt primarily for personal, family or household purposes shall collect or attempt to collect such debt in an unfair, deceptive or unreasonable manner. For the purposes of this section, such collection or attempt to collect shall be deemed unfair, deceptive or unreasonable if:
(a) The creditor communicates, threatens to communicate, or implies the fact of such debt or alleged debt to a person other than the person who might reasonably be expected to be liable therefor, or to an authorized user after the fact if that status is communicated to the creditor in writing, except with the written permission of the alleged debtor. The provisions of this paragraph shall not prohibit a creditor from notifying a debtor of the fact that the creditor may report a debt or alleged debt to a credit bureau or engage an agent or an attorney for the purpose of collecting the debt or alleged debt. For the purposes of this paragraph, the use of language on envelopes indicating that the communication relates to the collection of a debt shall be deemed a communication of such debt or alleged debt.
(b) The creditor communicates directly with the alleged debtor after notification from an attorney representing such debtor that all further communications relative to the debt should be addressed to him.
(c) The creditor communicates with the alleged debtor in such a manner as to harass or embarrass the alleged debtor, including, but not limited to communication at an unreasonable hour, with unreasonable frequency, by threats of violence, by use of offensive language, or by threats of any action which the creditor in the usual course of business does not in fact take.
(d) The creditor communicates with alleged debtors through the use of forms or instruments that simulate the form and appearance of judicial process. Failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall constitute an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the provisions of chapter ninety-three A.