Collectors are required to tell you who they are, who they are collecting for (the name of the Creditor) and the amount of the debt. (15 U.S.C. 1692 d-f.)
Whenever one of your creditors uses a third-party to collect a debt, that third-party is obligated to the following rules of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Many people do not realize that they don’t have to resort to such measures to keep debt collectors from making harassing phone calls.
If a collector calls at a bad time, simply say, “This is not a convenient time” and let them know specifically what time is convenient. Any calls other than those “convenient” times are considered harassment.
There is no law that says you have to communicate with a debt collector by phone. If you hang up on a debt collector there is nothing they can do about it. But, if the collector continues to call you repeatedly even after you have hung up on them, they are in violation of the FDCPA.
There are several things that a debt collector cannot do under the FDCPA.
Call you before 8am or after 9pm.
Call you at work, provided the debt collector is aware your employer does not approve of these calls.
Harass, oppress, or abuse you.
Lie to you or falsely imply that you have committed a crime.
Use unfair practices in an attempt to collect a debt.
Conceal his or her identity on the phone.
Disregard a written request from you to cease further contact.
Contact you by postcard.
Use a false name.
Give you false contact information.
Tell you owe more than you really do (unless they were given the wrong information from Creditor).
Tell you they work for a credit reporting agency.
Tell you are guilty of a crime.
Tell you they will sue you if they don’t intend to sue you, or don’t expect the Creditor to sue you.
Tell you they are an attorney if they are not.
Tell you they represent an attorney if they do not.
Ask you to pay more than you owe, interest, fees, or expenses that are not allowed by law.
Send you something that looks like an official court document if it is not.
Send you papers and tell you the papers are not legal forms if they really are legal forms.
Give false information to anyone about you.
Tell or threaten to tell anyone about your debt.
Tell you, you will be arrested if you refuse to pay a debt.
They may not use obscene or profane language.
Illegally inform a third party about your alleged debt.
Repeatedly call a third party to get your location information unless information provided is false.
Harass you by threatening you with violence or harm. (Note: Infrequent contacts such as once a week or twice a month may be stressful, but is not harassment under the FDCPA.)
Threaten you, any members of your family, workers, or friends.
Threaten to take your property unless the Creditor or Collector can do so legally.
They may not threaten to or publish your name as someone who refuses to pay his or her debt, except to a Credit Reporting Agency.
In most States they may not collect an amount greater than the amount of your debt. (Note: Some States allow an additional charge for Collectors).
They may not deposit a post-dated check prematurely.
If you tell them not to contact you in writing, or tell them that you have an attorney, they may not continue to contact you.
If you think a Debt Collector broke the law, contact the State’s office of Attorney General and also the Federal Trade Commission that works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and abusive business practices.
If your rights under the FDCPA have been violated, you have one year from the date of the violation to file a lawsuit against the debt collector. You could receive up to $1,000 in addition to actual damages and attorney fees.