Dealing with Debt Collectors

THE FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT

  • This law prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from people. In other words, they cannot do the following:
    • Use abusive or obscene language
    • Harassing with repeated calls
    • Calling before 8a.m. or after 9p.m. unless you agree.
    • Calling you at work if you have asked them to stop.
    • Talking to anyone but you or your attorney about the debt.
    • Misrepresenting the amount of your debt.
    • Falsely claiming to be an attorney or a law enforcement official.
    • Falsely claiming to be a credit bureau representative.
    • Threatening to sue unless they actually plan to take legal action.
    • Threatening to garnish wages or seize property unless they actually intend to do it.
  • The protections of this law only cover consumer debts, i.e., personal, family, and household debts, including: personal credit cards, car loans, medical bills, and home loans.
  • Guarantees the right to written communication within 5 days of first telephone contact. The collection agency’s first written communication must include:
    • Name and address of collection agency.
    • Amount of the debt, including the size of the original debt and any other costs or interest accrued.
    • Name of the original creditor.
    • How you can dispute the debt or seek verification of the debt.

Note: You can dispute the debt or ask for more information if you are unsure you owe money to a creditor, or how much you might owe. Once you ask for it, the collection agency must send you verification of the debt.

Tip: Communicate with the collector in writing. Keep a copy of everything you send out. Use certified mail. Keep a log of all communication, including phone calls.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sample letters HERE to help you deal with collection agencies.

If you want to read the full text, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website here: FTC Fair Debt Collection Act