Section 808(1) prohibits debt collectors from collecting any amount unless the amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or is permitted by law.
For purposes of this section, “amount” includes not only the debt, but also any incidental charges, such as collection [53 Fed. Reg. 50108] charges, interest, service charges, late fees, and bad check handling charges.
808(2) Legality of charges. A debt collector may attempt to collect a fee or charge in addition to the debt if either:
(a) the charge is expressly provided for in the contract creating the debt and the charge is not prohibited by state law, or
(b) the contract is silent but the charge is otherwise expressly permitted by state law.
Conversely, a debt collector may not collect an additional amount if either:
(a) state law expressly prohibits collection of the amount or
(b) the contract does not provide for collection of the amount and state law is silent.
808(3). If state law permits collection of reasonable fees, the reasonableness (and consequential legality) of these fees is determined by state law.
808(4). A debt collector may establish an “agreement” without a written contract. For example, he may collect a service charge on a dishonored check based on a posted sign on the merchant’s premises allowing such a charge, if he can demonstrate that the consumer knew of the charge.