Abusive Debt Collectors
Debt collectors have to follow rules. My job is to make sure they do. If debt collectors are calling you, I can make them stop and possibly get you paid for your trouble.
Debt collectors often do bad things. They call you when they aren’t supposed to. They threaten, harass, and annoy you. They send nasty letters. They threaten to file lawsuits based on debt that they cannot possibly sue under. They do this with impunity because most people don’t know that they can sue them for violating the law.
Debt collectors are not allowed to:
- Contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you’ve asked them to;
- Contact you at work if they know you do not want them to;
- Use any threats of violence or harm;
- Publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (caveat: they can provide this information to credit bureaus);
- Use obscene or profane language;
- Repeatedly call to annoy a debtor;
- Falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
- Falsely claim that you are a criminal or have committed a crime;
- Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
- Misrepresent the amount you owe, even by a small amount;
- Misrepresent the nature of forms they send you;
- Claim you can be arrested if you don’t pay your debt;
- Threaten to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they already have a judgment or intent to get one;
- Threaten to sue in cases where doing so would be illegal (statute of limitations, etc) or if they don’t intend to take the action;
- Provide false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company;
- Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency if it is not the document it purports to be;
- Use a fake company name to prevent identification or mislead you;
- Try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the debt instrument or applicable law allows the charge;
- Deposit a post-dated check early;
- Take or threaten to take your property unless it can be done legally;
- Contact you by postcard or in any way that identifies the correspondence as being from a debt collector on its face;
- Garnish any of the following, even after proving their case against you in a lawsuit:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Disaster Assistance
- Compensation for Injury, Death, or Detention of Employees of U.S. Contractors Outside the U.S.
- Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Benefits
- Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Death and Disability Benefits
- Merchant Seamen Wages
- Railroad Retirement Benefits
- Student Assistance
- Military Annuities and Survivors’ Benefits
- Service Members’ Pay
- Civil Service and Federal Retirement and Disability Benefits
- Veterans’ Benefits
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
- Social Security Benefits
- Contact you after they have received a letter from you saying you do not wish to be contacted any further about the debt. The collector can still contact you to confirm there will be no further contact or to advise you of additional actions being taken against you, such as lawsuit.
Debt collectors who behave badly are usually violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (or FDCPA). When a debt collector violates the FDCPA, they are statutorily liable for damages up to $1,000.00 plus any actual damages, costs, and attorney’s fees. That’s right – if a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you hire me to sue them, and we are successful, they have to pay your costs and my fees.