Debt Collection activity is an attempt by a debt collector to recover money you owe for an unpaid bill, loan, or line of credit.
Debt Collectors: Any person or business that works mainly to collect unpaid debts, or who regularly collects, or tries to collect, any unpaid debts owed to another business.
For more information on debt collection and your rights against debt collectors
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Your Rights in Debt Collection Actions
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: Makes it illegal for a debt collector to use abusive, deceptive, or unfair practices to collect a debt you owe. Title 15 U.S.C. 1692(e).
What counts as abusive harassment?
- Threats using violence or criminal behavior.
- Using cursing or profane language.
- Telephone calls or conversations meant to annoy, abuse, or harass the person called.
What counts as deceptive or misleading?
- Misrepresenting the amount,you owe.
- Threatening legal action, they can’t take (like getting you arrested).
- Faking letters from attorneys.
What counts as unfair?
- Collecting fees that weren’t included in the contract for the debt.
- Collecting post-dated checks to deposit later.
- Threatening illegal repossessions.
Attempts to Collect Debts
Contact from Debt Collectors: Aside from the limits on harassing behavior, debt collectors can call, text, email, or send mail to try and collect a debt.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a debt collector has to stop contacting you if you ask them to.
A debt collector has to stop contacting you to collect a debt if you notify them that you wish that they stop all communications.
Even if debt collection stops, you still owe the money and might be taken to court.
You can ask that a debt collector stop contacting you, but they can still take you to court for the money. If you receive a summons in a debt collection action, seek legal advice.
Bankruptcy may be the right option for your financial situation. Consider seeking legal advice on dealing with debts you are unable to pay back.
Sharing information online can be risky. To best protect yourself, it is wise to never share the following information online:
- Phone Numbers
- Social Security Number or Census Number
- Family Names
- Driver’s License Number
- Loan or credit card information
Responding to Debt Collectors
If you are being targeted by debt collection harassment, or no longer wish to be contacted by debt collectors, consider sending a letter.
Here is an example of a letter to a debt collector:
For sample letters that might apply to your situation, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
If you are facing a court case because of a debt, seek legal advice by contacting our offices, or by visiting our page on other resources.See our Other Resources Page here!