Debt Collectors and Your Rights:
Here is what a debt collector may NOT say or do:
Under the provisions of U.S. Federal Law, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors may not:
- use threats of violence or harm;
- publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau);
- use obscene or profane language; or repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.
- give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit bureau;
- send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not; or
- use a false name.
Imply that failure to pay the debt could result in arrest, imprisonment, or garnishment of wages;
Call consumers at work when they knew the consumers' employers prohibited such calls;
Talk with third parties, including neighbors, children, and employers, for purposes other than acquiring location information about consumers, without consumers' consent;
Cause the telephone to ring, or engage a person in telephone conversations, repeatedly or continuously, with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass a consumer;
Threaten to take action -- such as filing a lawsuit -- when they did not intend to do so;
Call consumers at times or places that they knew or should have known were inconvenient;
Fail to notify consumers of their right to dispute and obtain verification of their debts, and to obtain the name of the original creditor
Continue to try to collect debts after consumers disputed them in writing, and before verifying the debts.
Use obscene or profane language
collect any amount greater than your debt, unless your state law permits such
- deposit a post-dated check prematurely;
- use deception to make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams;
- take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally; or
- contact you by postcard.
Debt collectors may not make false statements. Debt collectors may not use any false or misleading statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:
- falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives;
- falsely imply that you have committed a crime;
- falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau;
- misrepresent the amount of your debt;
- indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not; or
- indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are.
Debt collectors also may not state that:
- you will be arrested if you do not pay your debt;
- they will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so; or
- actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to take such action.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive. We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!