What Are Debt Collector Laws?

Debt Collector Laws

What Are Debt Collector Laws?

Most people have experienced or know someone who has experienced harassment from a collection agency representative or "bill collector." Though the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was passed in the 1970s, some people still do not fully understand their rights under federal debt collector laws. What follows are some basic rights that you always have even if you truly owe a "bad" debt.

1. Under debt collector laws, you have the right to tell collection agencies not to call you at home, work, or at any other place. To protect your rights, issue such requests in writing. If you simply do not want telephone calls at your place of employment but are willing to talk about the bill outside of your working hours, say so in your letter. Always send any correspondence via a traceable mailing method such as certified mail. That way if you ever have to file a lawsuit because people violated debt collector laws, you have proof that you tried to exercise your rights before using the court system.

2. Bill collectors cannot speak to anyone else about your debt, including your spouse, child, or boss. If someone violates this law you have the right to sue for monetary damages.

3. Collection representatives can only call you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in your time zone.

4. If a bill collector knows you have an attorney, he cannot legally contact you directly.

5. Debt collector laws bar the publication of your personal information, whether through print or online media.

6. Bill collectors cannot impersonate lawyers, police officers, or threaten to arrest you for not paying a debt.

7. If you demand proof of a collection agency's financial claim against you, the company's representatives must either provide it to you or cease their collection attempts.

8. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act bars any collection agent from using abusive, profane, or threatening words toward you or anyone answering a telephone call on your behalf.

9. In almost all cases, the fact that you did not pay a debt as promised can harm your credit score for no more than 7 years.

10. Debt collector laws forbid communication via postcard. Every letter or telephone call must disclose that it originates from a collection agency.

11. Upon request, a collections representative must provide the name and address of the company that originated the financial claim against you.