Know the Rules

What debt collectors can’t do

Getting contacted by a debt collector can be intimidating. There can feel like a real imbalance of power — you owe money and they want it. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself about what they can’t do, just as much as what they can. Here are some things that are out-of-bounds for debt collectors.

Using Threats

Debt collectors cannot threaten you in any way. They can strongly suggest that you work with them, and that’s about it. They also can’t use offensive language.

Visit Your Work

Here’s something unusual: Debt collectors can call you at work unless you specifically instruct them otherwise. However, while they can call you, they cannot come to your work and ask about payments.

Contact You At All Hours of The Day

Unfortunately, debt collectors can contact you via phone, email, text and even your social media accounts. Thankfully, there are limits to what hours they can call or text you. As USA Today notes, debt collectors cannot contact you before 8 am or after 9 pm.

Lie About Identity

Debt collectors cannot lie about their identity. If they claim to be calling from the IRS or suggest they are law enforcement, it is illegal.

Discuss Your Debt with Others

Debt collectors are not allowed to discuss your debt with anyone other than you. They can call your relatives to get accurate contact information on you, but they can’t get into details about the debt.

If you feel a debt collector has violated any of these guidelines, contact the FTC and file a complaint. You should also file a report with your state’s debt collection regulator. If things get worse, you might want to seek out legal counsel.

Chris O'Shea

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