10 Things Debt Collectors Are Not Allowed To Do

The phone is ringing again. You know that it’s a debt collection agency. You hit “silent” and ignore it. After all, you don’t have the money to pay them so you don’t know what you’re going to tell them. Still, their constant calls are getting really annoying. Is there anything that you can do to get them to stop calling you? Yes.

According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (which is part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act), there are certain things that debt collection agencies are absolutely not allowed to do. You have the right to request that they stop doing these things and can even take them to court if they continue these behaviors.

Make sure that you are aware of the fact that debt collection agencies are not allowed to do the following ten things:

  1. They cannot call you over and over repeatedly. Debt collection agencies are not allowed to keep calling and having your phone ring over and over until you pick up.
  2. They cannot call you at odd hours. It is legal for debt collection agencies to call you between 8 am and 9 pm (your local time) Monday through Saturday and between 1 pm and 5 pm (your local time) on Sundays. They aren’t allowed to call outside of those hours and they aren’t allowed to call you on official holidays. So if you get a call from a debt collection agency at midnight on Christmas then you have the right to force them to not do that anymore.
  3. They cannot threaten you. Debt collection agencies are not allowed to make threats. They can’t say that they’ll sue you when they don’t intend to do so. They cannot threaten to tell your employer or your friends or anyone else about your debt problems.
  4. They cannot speak to you using abusive language. If you are ever on the phone with a debt collection agency and they begin to swear at you, call your names or otherwise speak to you abusively then you should hang up. You should immediately put in writing what happened and send it to the management of the agency.
  5. They cannot talk to other people about your debt. Debt collection agencies are allowed to discuss your debt with your spouse and your attorney. Other than that, they are not allowed to discuss your debt with anyone. They may call your employer and other contacts to verify employment or to verify your contact information but they are not allowed to reveal any information about your debt. Notably, they are only allowed to call these people one single time to verify that information.
  6. They cannot share your debt information in other ways. For example, they cannot send an open postcard to you that reveals information about your debt because others would be able to see it. They cannot print information about your debts in magazines, newspapers or other media. They are not allowed to publish lists of people who haven’t paid debts. They have a responsibility to keep your debt problems private.
  7. They cannot report false information to your credit report. They can tell the truth about what you haven’t paid but they can’t create falsehoods to further ruin your credit. Make sure that you stay on top of your credit report if you’re having trouble with debt collection agencies.
  8. They can’t lie about who they are. They must tell you who they are and who they are calling on behalf of to collect the debt. They cannot pretend to have any authority that they don’t have. Therefore, if you get a call from someone who says that they are a police officer or a lawyer or anyone else with authority, you need to verify that they really are who they say they are.
  9. They cannot lie about what’s happening with your debt. They can’t, for example, say that they are selling off your debt to another party when this isn’t what they are doing.
  10. They cannot keep contacting you if you request in writing that they not call you anymore. That’s right; you have the right to ask them to stop bothering you and they have to comply. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t responsible for your debt anymore. The debt collection agency is free to pursue legal recourse and to contact you through a lawyer to notify you as such. However, if you have requested in writing that they not call you, they are no longer allowed to call you. And by the way, even if you don’t cease communication completely, you are perfectly within your right to notify the agency that they may not call you at work and they have to respect that.


38 Responses to 10 Things Debt Collectors Are Not Allowed To Do

  1. Very true, but they still do these things all the time. Just remember who you’re dealing with and don’t take it personal.

  2. It is nice piece. I too feel that it does not matter one fails to pay debts but his dignity should maintained and respected. It is more important than the money because money follow the man not the otherwise. Debt traps are commons these days so we can find a lot of people facing such ridiculous situations.

  3. Check into any credit counseling agency or debt consolidation company you are thinking of using. In a perfect world you would be able to trust all companies that offer such services, but the reality is that some of them are only after your money, and won’t do anything but make your credit situation worse. Look for unbiased reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any consumer complaints.

    • Working with debt consolidation companies is a choice of a collector, it’s not mandatory. Dont expect perfection or relief by going to a debt consolidator.

  4. You can answer the phone and tell the the truth, that you can not pay. Sometimes this helps keep them from calling for a short stint especially for the rest of that day at least. I do agree with putting everything in writing. Send them communication through the mail with resgistered or certified mail and they are supposed to acknowledge this.


    • A comeback from that statement (i dont have money) is a negotiation. The real job of a collector is litigation in procreating funds from the debtor. My best advise would be to work out a payment plan, in order to keep your debt from going to court and accruing more fees such as court fees. I had a debt personally of 300 that turned into 800 due to court that was garnished immediately. What’s better? Paying 300 or 800?

      • Youre still obligated to the repayment of the money you borrowed, there is no free money in this world and there is no way out of paying back what you took from someone else.

  5. This is so very true. Even those who are in bad credit situations have rights. People need to know about this. Thank you for posting this article. It’s all about helping out those who need it.

  6. Everyone has rights about stuff. But if you have taken out a loan for example and you don’t speak up about it or contact the debt place then it’s always going to chase you. You’ve spent that money so pay it back! I know it’s not as simple but don’t ignore it!! Trust me it doesn’t work ignoring it just makes things worse.

    • Oh my yes, wholly liberal laws like the ones that allow businesses , city and state governments to profit from the sale of alcohol, which by the way left me in a hospital bed in my living room for 3 months, and with a reduced ability to perform many things, like walking for one. Cathy, you should open your eyes, for even I know that one doesn’t have to look far to see one who has tougher struggles, even after having 2 drunk drivers nearly kill me, destroy my vehicles and then a third hit both of my parked cars, destroying one and the other the body shop claimed to be not worth fixing, yet I continued to drive it as it is all I had. Oh, and did I mention finding my husband hanging in the garage 2 months prior to the first drunk driver hitting me…I had 2 boys on 6, and the other turned 2 a week after the funeral, what a birthday party…you should have been there, maybe it would have given you some perspective on people and what is important. Despite my injuries the most devastating and long lasting effect of all this is the depression that followed, so, lady, go piss up a rope!

  7. Typical debtors….all whinging about people you owe money to chasing you. Your name wasn’t picked at ramdon for a list, your being chased because you took something that you had no intention of paying for. If you did intend to pay but had then experienced financial problems, you would have called the supplier and arranged a payment plan. I’m sick of people ordering from me and then using every piece of wooly liberal law to protect their rights. But what about my rights to be protected from debtors who don’t pay. Of course debtors don’t give a stuff about the financial problems they cause others as long as they are not upset. We have all had money issues but for the unemployed and single mother parade .., get a job, there are over 400,00 jobs on the job centre website and stop taking things you can’t pay for.

    • If you offer credit for your goods and/or services then unfortunately you have to accept a level of risk, it goes with the territory. IF you are not willing to accept this risk then you need t0 re-evaluate your business, IF you need to offer credit to stay in the game then maybe you don’t have a business. YOU should not be encouraging people to buy things they can not afford. In my opinion, you are part of the problem. You hold just as much responsibility as a creditor. Your target audience is clearly people who can’t afford your goods and services which is why you offer credit in the first place. I guarantee you have won a hell of a lot more than you have lost. So, like I said before, if you can not take the hit you should find another, more honest, way of making your living. Grow a heart and stop being such a gremlin.

      • First off, wrong!.. The federal government dictates the guidelines for credit approvals so ppl that cant afford it, won’t be approved. I guess youd know that if you owned a business.

    • When you start a business and enter agreements, you assume a risk. Sometimes people will screw you. You’re not a bank. You’re not protected from losses like a BANK is. Telling people to get a job when unemployment is over 8% ? What are you ? Heartless ? Or just a wayward “Christian” who worships the Almighty Dollar…

  8. Your right Cathy! It was Completly intentional when I forced my gall bladder to stop working, so I could have it removed. It was a delight when all those bills came pouring in knowing I was going to get calls 6 months later because a $16 balance i actally paid wasn’t posted correctly. Yup shame on me! Your right this single mom should get 2 more jobs because the couple hours a day I do get to see my kids is just way too much!

  9. hi.i currenty owe 02 £400 as i hav been in dispute for years.my dad recived an email from a debt recovery firm showing him the account details.i hav contacted the company but they hav said that i provided this email address at the time of the contract and they can do this.the problem lies that there is several people in my house hold and i didnt want anyone to no this debt

  10. Cathy, you know what I’m sick of is Employers and Insurance companies. Employers because they never seem to pay you what it take to survive in the world today or the ones that don’t give raises in pay after 5 yrs of service. Insurance companies make me sick because they take half your pay check to be able to cover your family then leaves you broke. Also State aid because it always seems that you make to much money. Then Medical emergencies happen, Rent goes up, Electric goes up, Gas goes up, everything goes up because their is always someone that wants more money. Does anyone stop to think about that 19,000 a yr family of three? No.. They say get two jobs.. Ya that’s easy when your already putting in 50 to 60 hours a week just to make it. Then they say have your wife get a job. OK that will work when Childcare prices go down and your wife is working just for someone to watch your child for you. I would rather work what I can and put the money back into the house then in someones pocket. At least then I would have food on the table. Its Just so easy for someone to say what you should be doing If they don’t care about what you have already been doing and don’t understand what it is like to be in the lower class bracket and a family of three being harassed because i’m not adding money to their already million dollar company.

    • Then make sure not to take out money that cant be paid back. As you know money doesnt come free theres a lot of hard work to get that money.

  11. Hi i am like millions out there using or used paypal through ebay, sold my sons laptop as he wanted to get a new PS3 console, advertised it on ebay sold it received payment through paypal the person came to my house and collected the laptop (E-mail messages and 2 people with proof he collected the item) then 3 weeks later he files a chargeback unauthaurised payment? so now paypal are saying i owe them £230 for the chargeback. reported this to crime and fraud web site got crime ID emailed paypal with all this info and they have ignorned all correspondence. now the case is closed and paypal have passed (alledged debt) on to EOS debt collection agents. i dont know the legal side of this all i know is i sold item buyer collected and i put the money in my account then went to shops with my son and he bought his new PS3. OH i stay in scotland.
    can anyone clear the mist up please!

  12. I had repeated harassment from McKenzie for months asking me for money it was extremely traumatic even when I asked them to stop and complained to mci customer service they still hounded me. A really awful company I will never use them again and the bills weren’t even mine they weremy ex husbands thurkettle used at his address that I was blocked from access to by archer trekked american lawfirm bill Thompson who bought his job as head honcho of nj divorce bar organization

  13. Note that there is a difference in 3rd party debt collectors and 1st party debt collectors. 3rd party collectors are the ones that have bought your defaulted account for pennies on the dollar, while 1st party collectors are the people that you originally defaulted with. The difference is 3rd party collectors have to abide by these rules (except in Kansas due to a lack of an FDCPA board or a lazy one. Can’t remember which.), and first party collectors don’t. Or at least that is how it was explained to me. Hope this two cents helps, and if something similar was already posted, my apologies didn’t see anything when I skimmed through.

  14. I am appalled at the debt collector’s tactics used when corresponding with an alleged debtor, my experience started when I became a member of a ‘cheap’ gym, and tried to terminate the membership, I took the necessary actions to stop the payment and wrote a letter contacting the gym re the termination, and my bank as would be, a forgoing conclusion, the problem arises when the ‘small print’ terms and conditions may( be deemed as legally binding), the ex- member is a layperson re financial law. The ex- member then assumes that all is well, as a letter with their new address had been sent to the gym, and explaining the change in their financial circumstances, at the same time as the bank is contacted – stopping the direct debit. A period in time goes by, when suddenly a ‘final demand ‘ letter is sent to the ex-member from the credit company -( trading name ) – with their reference number and the gym ref number, at the top of the page, and the cost of the fees for the gym amounting to a sum less that £60. But the Credit company has introduced their fees amounting to £102, there is a Heading of Final Payment Demand!! threatening to take C.C.J’s out on the ex-member, when contacting the credit company, via telephone, the ex-member asks who they are speaking to – get a name C.P. this employee refers to the amount owed and quotes the total to be paid£154.50 almost three times the original cost, the ex-member quotes the amount of the gym fees and offers that amount as a means to start payment, at no time did this credit company employee accept any payment offered…. instead , she continued to force the larger amount, their fees as acceptable, for this reason the ex member asked her if the telephone calls were recorded, she said yes, at no time prior to this, did she warn me that I, the ex -member was being recorded, the I told herI would need to seek an independent organisation’s help re their tactics and refusal to accept any payment offered. I told her the CAB would be contacted . the I had been very harassed by their behaviour, had been off work with a viral illness and only received 2 days pay which would impact on their ability to pay, they received their second letter, from them, this time legal action and a home visit….. if the full amount wasn’t paid. They contacted them( credit company) and HG (parent company) telling them about all of above, expressing concerns about the same tactics being used – whenI contacted them via telephone, again they suggested that they, the ex member would pay a reasonable payment, it was once again refused, the greater amount was quoted again, and again a refusal of any amount offered. the ex- member questioned this – in a email and continued to email them with the up-to- date information,the I expressed again, the concerns, and the profound effects their tactics were having on the me the ex member. They contacted the Debt Advisory Agency, and they had given me the ex member some sound advice, re the Credit company threats, I had advised them that I was making a serious complaint about their tactics and the effects it was having on her. If they had accepted the first payment offered the accomulative costs would have ceased. A payment would have been made, and the third letter, which arrived today 12 october – this time the letter was signed by a legal officer – final demand – BUT – the final fee was £114.50 less than the first and second letter’s final demand ‘amount’. Again with the threat of court action.I wrote a email again – asking why the first payment had not been accepted – why there had been extra fees put onto the payment? the ex member told the credit company that they would be recording any info from them via telephone conversations -as a precaution, I emailed them today explaining that they had just purchased a Postal Order , quoted the P.O. number and the recorded envelope no and the receipts from the Post office , sent today about 3pm to arrive by Monday A.M. Iconcluded that a payment would be made as and when , until payment ends. I find it rediculous that a credit company can behave like this – all financial orgainisations should be regulated by the FSA – the regulatory body should be independent, Compliance with Codes of Conduct, Codes of Practice, ethics and ethical practices, it is in my opinion……….. ‘financial thugery’ for any organisation to be allowed to behave in this way . There should be a strick format for these credit companies to operate under, which would not allow the above. In a court of law – the law stands – the evidence is put forward in a case, and the judge will set a’ pecident’ and the law can be changed!! One is innocent until proven guilty!! is that not the case? The courts have a ‘format’ that even they, must comply with, the police and other legal- type organisations must be seen to comply with codes of conduct and ethics!! Where do the ethics and the Codes of Conduct come into place with these Credit Companies??? A debtor should pay what is owed, that is without question!!!BUT……….. no debtor should be fearing the threat of credit company employees coming to their home , especially…. after an amount has been offered to them, and no acceptance, but a refusal – then having to deal with the intimidation in the format of these letters…. that these credit companies send, no one should have to tell a credit company to stop harassing them, threatening them with Bailliffs, court action – who has the right to come to the my home and intimidate me for the price of £154.50. A criminal would have Human Rights to protect them, if law officers behaved in this way , the weight of the law would come down on them. What if a debtor been emotionally unstable and these threats pushed them over the edge, a fatality!! IS there any organisation that would help????? Contact has been made with the Financial Ombusman, but most of the cases are dealing with comsumers rights – Banks, insurance, etc.The Financial Ombusman should get his/her finger out and impose huge fines on these Credit companies if they are seen to adopt these practices (as above) that are an everyday occurance in Britain. help !!!!!!

    • You signed a contract that entitles you to these problems. Had you read the fine print you wouldn’t be having these problems.. i didn’t even read the whole thing. At the end of the day you did this yourself, not anyone else. Learn the lesson pay, and move on is all i can say.

  15. I’ve been in dispute with TMobile about charges I shouldn’t have been charged for. I do owe them early termination fee and the month of service before I ported over to AT&T. However, they have tried to charge me for remaining months on the contract, which the contract doesn’t allow them to do, even by their own admission. They refused to remove the fraudulent fees even after they acknowledged the fees weren’t supposed to be there. Therefore, I refused to pay anything, because I’ve been told if you pay even a penny, they can and will use that to keep your debt open. Since they wouldn’t put anything in writing saying I didn’t owe the amount they acknowledge I didn’t. I wouldn’t pay them. Well they sold off my account and now the debt holder of course won’t work with me on the amount because I refuse to pay more than the $350 I owe them, not the $987 this thing has some how ballooned to. I’ve gotten calls at all hours, I’ve gotten mailings from an “attorney” saying I owe money. As a matter of a fact, it was 0930 CST on Sunday when I just got another phone which is what prompted me to Google calling on Sundays. Not everyone who has a debt collector after them is trying to avoid paying their debt, some of us are willing to pay our debt, but we aren’t willing to pay more.

    Thanks for the information, I’ll make sure I use some of what is said here verbatim.

    • Contact them again tell them i’ll pay you $$$ and not a penny more. If you dont want to take that to close out the account then i’ll wait till the debt is sold and pay that company. It’s what i would do.

  16. IentistWhat are the laws concerning the contacting of family members that they track down thru google or some such? My sister in law…whom i can not stand and havent really spoken to in 18 years notified my husband that she recieved a call from some one saying it was urgent i return their call and left their name and number….even tho they didnt reveal why they called it dont take a brainscientist to know that it was a debt collector calling and if i had wanted her to know about it i would have listed her as a reference!

    • None it’s a technicality. If they offer to take a message.. then it’s legal. If they dont then im not suppose to make them.. But generally i can.

  17. anyone know what i can do about a collection agency,who keeps calling for my sister,when i have repeatedly told them that i haven’t spoken to her in a year and don’t plan on it! last time i firmly told them that sure i am not the only family who ends up not speaking to another family member but lo and behold they still call cause she had me down as a contact for her!

    • It depends.. if she’s left you as a reference, or if she’s been looked up. Either way you already admitted knowing her and that would make me note down not to have your number removed. Next time when someone calls about her say you dont know her.

  18. According to the Federal Trade Commision’s website there us nothing illegal about creditors calling you on a Sunday. If they call at any time other that between 8 am and 9 pm then they are breaking the law. You might want to change this in your article.

  19. The reason Debt Collectors don’t always follow the rules is because if we did.. We probably wouldn’t get paid. If i ask you pay, but then you say no.. Im suppose to stop? Wrong. I’ll call your parents and relatives.. even ones you dont talk to. Untill it’s resolved, if you really dont have the money we’ll find out. The other thing you should be worried about is the amount of people that see your private information.. Address’s (any where you lived since you left mom and pops) Names. DOB, SSN, CBR remember that everytime your phone gets dialed it’s probably someone different that now can take a look or a pic of whatever they want. I’m 19 and find this job pretty fun. 🙂

  20. WOW!!!! It’s very refreshing to hear that debt collectors don’t always follow the rules, but they expect a debtor to. It’s sick that you admit to contacting a relative or friend of a debtor and harassing them. You’re only 19-years-old…wait until you have major responsibilities. Wait until you have a $100,000 surgery and when a payment plan that is affordable for you, is NOT to a bottom feeding collections agency. Wait until you GROW UP and see what the real meaning of life is. I can guarantee you it’s not to work your ass of to pay for overpriced bullshit. Come back here and tell us again how “FUN” your job is after you’ve found yourself in a bad situation and are being harassed day and night. This is the best you can do??? I pray that you don’t call a mother repeatedly and harass her in front of her children. You have no idea what it’s like to choose between feeding your kids and paying a doctor bill! It’s actually a VERY simple choice. Again, come back here when your spouse has stayed in the hospital for a month with Leukemia and you have $500,000 in medical bills.

    Remember, just because someone has debt, does NOT give a collections agency the right to call BEFORE 8 and AFTER 9, while I’m at work and after I have said several times that I cannot receive phone calls at work. And seriously, I don’t care if you want to say, “You owe the debt, you should pay it.” No shit Sherlock. Some things in life are more important…like keeping my electric on versus paying $600 a month for some medical bill that you have ZERO proof I owe. The only “proof” you have is the one that your company has printed on a piece of paper. I want to see it from the original creditor.

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