Educational Consumer Tips

Debt Collection Rights

Author: Better Business Bureau
Category: Finance

The fact is, you have some rights when it comes to dealing with debt
collection agencies. They’re spelled out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices
Act (FDCPA), which protects consumers from abusive, harassing or unfair debt
collection practices, and is enforced by the FTC.

What types of debts are covered?

The Act covers personal, family, and household debts, including money you
owe on a personal credit card account, an auto loan, a medical bill, and your
mortgage. The FDCPA doesn't cover debts you incurred to run a business.

Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are not permitted to:

·        call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

·        contact you at work if you've told them verbally or in writing
that your employer doesn't allow you to get such calls in the workplace

·        contact a third party about you for any reason other than getting
your contact information; simply put, they may not tell anyone that you owe

·        harass or abuse you or anyone else they contact about you

·        lie about the amount you owe

·        use deceptive methods to collect a debt from you.

Debt collectors may not:

o   falsely claim to be law enforcement officers

o   claim that you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay your debt

o   threaten to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or your
wages — unless they are permitted by law to do it and intend to do so

o   give false credit information about you to anyone, including a
credit reporting company

o   use a fake company name

What does the debt collector have to tell me about the debt?

Every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling
you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact
you. This notice also must include the name of the creditor to whom you
owe the money, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.

Where do I report a debt collector for an alleged violation?

Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney
General’s office ( and the Federal Trade Commission (
Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the
federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your Attorney General’s office
can help you determine your rights under your state’s law.

To learn more about credit-related issues, visit, the U.S.
Government’s portal to financial education. For more information or to
file a formal complaint, visit the Better Business Bureau at