What Debt Collectors CAN’T Do

If your debt has been transferred to a collections agency, the agency has the right to collect. But that doesn’t mean that they can do anything and everything to take what you owe. There are very specific guidelines for what collections agencies can’t do to collect money. For example, they can’t:

  • Use obscene language
  • Threaten you with harm
  • Try to deceive you about their identity, or why they are calling
  • Publish information about your debt, other than reporting it to credit reporting companies
  • Take or threaten to you take your property except as a part of the legal process, during which you have the right to defend yourself
  • Tell you that you will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt
  • Falsely claim to be an attorney or a representative of the government
  • Incorrectly claim that you have committed a crime, or state that you will arrested if you don’t pay the debt
  • Lie about how much money you owe
  • Send you postal correspondence that externally reveals the collections activity
  • Tell you documents sent to you are legal forms when they are not, or lie about the nature of legal forms sent to you
  • Claim that they will seize or garnish your wages or property, or take legal action against you, unless they are allowed to by law AND plan to do so
  • Give false financial information about you to anyone
  • Claim to be an attorney if they are not
  • Incorrectly state that they can seize your Social Security benefits, pension, retirement, child support, alimony or other protected benefits
  • Make you pay for collect calls

Always remember that you have rights. If you believe a collections agency is acting improperly or illegally, contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.consumerfinance.gov. States also have additional laws that govern the collection of debts, so contact your state’s Attorney General office for more information.

Revised January 2016.

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