• Subhan Tariq, Esq

What Are Debt Collectors Not Allowed to Do?


debt collection

Debt collectors have a reputation—in some cases a well-deserved one—for being obnoxious, rude, and even scary while trying to get borrowers to pay up. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was enacted to curb these annoying and abusive behaviors, but some debt collectors flout the law.


1. Pretend to Work for a Government Agency

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from pretending to work for any government agency, including law enforcement. They also cannot claim to be working for a consumer reporting agency.

2. Threaten to Have You Arrested

Collection agencies cannot falsely claim that you have committed a crime or say you will be arrested if you don’t repay the money they say you owe.

First of all, the agencies cannot issue arrest warrants or have you put in jail. Furthermore, failing to repay a credit card debt, mortgage, car loan, or medical bill in a timely manner doesn't land you in prison.

3. Publicly Shame You

Debt collectors are not permitted to try to publicly shame you into paying money that you may or may not owe.

In fact, they're not even allowed to contact you by postcard. They cannot publish the names of people who owe money. They can't even discuss the matter with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.

Debt collectors are permitted to contact third parties to try to track you down, but they’re only allowed to ask those people for your address, home phone number, and place of employment. In most cases, they may not contact those people more than once.

4. Trying to Collect Debt You Don’t Owe

Some debt collectors will knowingly or unknowingly rely on incorrect information to try to get money out of you.

The creditor you originally owed money may have sold your debt to a collection agency, which in turn may have sold it to another collection agency. A mistake somewhere along the way could mean that the collector contacting you has incorrect information.

The agency might be trying to collect a debt from you that has been discharged in bankruptcy or even one that is owed by someone else with a similar name.

Within five days of first contacting you, a debt collector must send you a written notice stating how much you owe, to whom, and how to make your payment. You might have to prompt them to do this.

If you aren’t sure whether you owe a debt, send a letter to the collector via certified mail with a return receipt asking for more information. Be careful not to assume any responsibility for the debt.

5. Harassed You

The law lists specific ways in which debt collectors are not allowed to harass you. They are not permitted to:

  • Threaten you with violence or harm

  • Use obscene or profane language

  • Call you repeatedly

  • Call you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. without your permission

  • Call you at work, if you forbid it in writing

  • Contact you at all if you tell the collector, in writing, to stop contacting you altogether or to contact only your attorney.

Even if you take these steps, there are still some circumstances that allow debt collectors to contact you again: They can contact you to let you know they will no longer be contacting you or to tell you that a lawsuit has been filed against you.

If you receive a court summons for a lawsuit regarding your debt, don’t ignore it. An unscrupulous debt collector might fabricate such a document, or it might be legitimate.

If you get a summons, look up the court’s contact information online (not on the notice you were sent) and contact the court directly to confirm that the notice is accurate. Don't use the address or phone number on the document you receive.

Do you have debt collection problems? Call 718-674-1245 or message here today!


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