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Know Your Rights About Debt Collection Practices

If you are receiving calls or texts from a debt collector, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects you from the practices listed below. If you believe and of your rights have been violated you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Harassment from Debt Collectors is Illegal

Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, they may not:

  • use threats of violence or harm;
  • publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies);
  • use obscene or profane language; or
  • repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone.

Debt collectors also are prohibited from saying that:

  • you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt;
  • they’ll seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they are permitted by law to take the action and intend to do so; or
  • legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action.

Debt Collectors Cannot Make False Statements

Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not:

  • falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
  • falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
  • falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
  • misrepresent the amount you owe;
  • indicate that papers they send you are legal forms if they aren’t; or
  •  indicate that papers they send to you aren’t legal forms if they are.

Debt collectors may not:

  • give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company;
  • send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency if it isn’t; or
  • use a false company name.

Reference and additional information on Debt Collection regulation can be found here.

What to do when a Debt Collector Contacts You

Debt collectors are subject to the regulations in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and must comply with the above rules—as well as a handful of others about how they can interact with you. If you receive a call from a debt collector, whether or not the call is for you, there are steps you should take to deal with the debt collection calls. Often, if you don’t respond the calls can become even worse.

If the debt collectors say the debt is yours:

  • Request the name of the debt collection company, mailing address, phone number, and the name of the agent calling you. Debt collectors must provide contact information during calls and not doing so can be a violation of the FDCPA. Having this information also allows you to send written requests to the debt collector.
  • Request a written summary of the debt, interest, and any other charges applied to the debt, or a debt verification. Debt collectors must provide requested documentation within 30 days under the FDCPA to be considered a valid debt. If you don’t contest the debt within 30 days from the first date of contact, however, the debt may be considered valid. Often debt collectors can’t provide this information because of poor recording keeping practices in the debt collection industry.
  • Keep a record of every call the debt collector makes. You can request a debt collector to only contact your attorney or to cease and desist from calling you by sending a written letter to them—but keep in mind that just because a debt collector stops calling at your request doesn’t mean you are not obligated to pay.
  • Report the debt collector to the FTC using the PrivacyStar Android app or on our website if they are violating the law.

If the debt collectors call for someone else at your number:

  • Tell the debt collector that the person they are calling for is not at your number and ask them to stop calling. Not all debt collectors will, however, so doing the following can help you stop the calls.
  • Request the name of the debt collection company, mailing address, phone number, and name of the agent. You can send a cease and desist letter to the debt collector to try to stop them from contacting you.
  • Report the debt collector to the FTC using the PrivacyStar Android app or on our website if they are violating the law.

What to do if a Debt Collector Breaks the Law

If you believe and of your rights have been violated you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). PrivacyStar app for Android automatically blocks calls from debt collectors known to use harassing practices, you are also able to make reports to the FTC straight from your phone.

It’s worth taking the time to file a complaint, not only to prevent the debt collector from continue to harass others, but because documenting the harassment can help you to build a body of evidence against the debt collector. Under the FDCPA, or Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you may be entitled to up to $1,500 per violation of the law by a debt collector. If you’re receiving lots of harassing calls from debt collectors, it could mean a large sum for the violations.


Posted in: Debt Collectors

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