Being aware of the following six laws will prevent you from being a deer in the headlights of unscrupulous telemarketers, debt collectors and credit card companies.

Dodd-Frank Act – The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is a wide-ranging federal law that, starting in 2010, gave the federal government broad powers to regulate the financial industry. The most pertinent component of the law from a personal credit perspective is the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which in concept provides a powerful new tool to help consumers resolve disputes with large companies, specifically including credit card disputes and mortgage loan modifications. We’ve written about the CFPB’s dispute process before.

The CARD Act of 2009 – The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, aka The Credit Card Act, overhauled the regulation of credit card issuers and outlawed many longstanding abusive practices in the credit card industry, especially those relating to interest rate increases, questionable fees and application of payments.

FACTA – The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act is a 2003 federal law that expanded and modernized the legal rules governing credit reporting, primarily by amending the 70’s era Fair Credit Report Act. FACTA is the law that required credit bureaus to give consumers access to a free copy of their credit reports once annually (and, by the way, AnnualCreditReport.com is the official and only site to take advantage of this right online – don’t be fooled by imitators.)

FCRA – The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the cornerstone law governing credit reporting in the United States. It regulates how credit information can be collected and used. It also forms the backbone of regulation over the credit reporting agencies. All credit information that is used for background checks and employment verification must meet stringent guidelines put into place because of this act.

FDCPA – The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a 1978 statute that established firm guidelines regarding how debt collectors should do business and clarified what collectors are and aren’t allowed to do when collecting a debt. The law sought to eliminate the abusive debt collection practices that had become widespread prior to its adoption. The FDCPA gave consumers strong rights, including rules requiring debt collectors to actually verify debts and cease communication and collection activity upon request.

TCPA – The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is a little-known 1991 act that governs telemarketing in the United States, including the rules regarding the abuse of automatic dialers, text messages and fax machines. The TCPA is best known for its establishment of the National Do Not Call Registry. You may have never heard of it, but it’s the reason you don’t get telemarketing calls at 7AM every Sunday morning (and the law you can mention to make a telemarketer never contact you again.)

Knowledge is power.