If you fall far enough behind on payments for credit cards, mortgages, medical bills or other debt, a collection agency may step in to recoup losses. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) limits the harassing tactics debt collectors can use when trying to collect payment; however, this doesn’t always stop collectors from breaking the rules.
If you think you may be the victim of unfair debt collection practices, here are four things debt collectors can’t do when pursuing payments and what they can do under the law:
1. Show up at your workplace
You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing it’s illegal for a debt collector to show up at your workplace to collect payment. Under the FDCPA, the law prohibits creditors from coming to your workplace or publicizing your debts to embarrass you into paying.
However, they can call you at work so long as they do not reveal to your colleagues that they are a debt collector. Fortunately, if you ask the debt collector not to call you at work, they must stop immediately, according to the law.
2. Harass you for payment
The FDCPA says that a debt collector cannot engage in harassing, oppressive or abusive conduct towards any person connected with the collection of debt. Illegal harassment from creditors and collectors can come in a wide range of forms, including:
- Abusive or obscene language
- Threats of violence
- Repeated calls
- Publishing information about you
However, it’s important to note that debt collectors can pressure you to pay your debts as long as they don’t threaten or mislead you. They can call you daily, send frequent letters or sue you for payment on a debt if it is within the bounds of the law.
3. Arrest you for unpaid debt
Some debt collectors have gone so far as to threaten to throw a person in jail if they do not pay their debt. Fortunately, this is just an intimidation tactic. You cannot go to jail for a debt you owe to a collector.
But keep in mind, it isn’t illegal for debt collectors to sue you for unpaid debt. These lawsuits could result in wage garnishments or bank levies to pay off what you owe.
4. Call you at anytime
It can feel like debt collectors are calling you constantly when you owe money. But according to the law, it is illegal for them to contact you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. You are also free to ask the debt collector to stop calling or writing you and they must abide – though you are still obligated to pay your debt.
Remember, you still have rights even when you have unpaid debts. If debt collectors are using abusive tactics to get payment from you, you can take action to protect yourself.