Nasty Debt Collector?

Nov 17, 2011 by

If you’re behind on any debt, the Federal Trade Commission’s Fact Sheet for Consumers on Debt Collection is a must read. Laws control debt collection, and you can sue and collect damages if a collector is flaunting the law. Many consumer law attorneys’ fees are a percentage of the settlement, so you wouldn’t have to pay out of your pocket. Or try Legal Services. Before taking any action, talk to an attorney.

The following is an excerpt from the FTC Fact Sheet linked above. Ironically, in my experience, it outlines the standard debt collection agency business model.


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
  • Use obscene or profane language
  • Repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone

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
  • Indicate that papers they send to you aren’t legal forms if they are

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
  • 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 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
  • Use a false company name

Unfair practices

Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, they may not:

  • Try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt – or your state law – allows the charge
  • Deposit a post-dated check early
  • Take or threaten to take your property unless it can be done legally
  • Contact you by postcard

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