Unexpected medical bills, job loss and economic uncertainty are just a few of the things that may cause you to feel overwhelmed by debt. If you are unable to pay some bills for a while, those balances may go to a debt collection service. Unfortunately, many collectors use unfair and/or abusive tactics.
The Federal Trade Commission provides information on the laws relating to fair debt collection. Recognizing abusive and deceptive practices may help you avoid financial issues.
Requirements for debt collectors
According to the FTC, debt collectors may contact you through the phone, email, text messages or letters. However, laws prevent them from making phone calls to your home early in the morning or late at night. When a debt collector contacts you, he or she must provide you with a written notice that includes specific details: the name of the creditor, the amount you owe and the steps you should take if the debt is not yours.
Signs of harassment
Some common types of harassment from debt collectors are threats of violence, false claims and obscene language. All of these practices fall outside the FTC’s rules on fair collection. Other illegal practices include making repeated phone calls, threatening you with arrest and attempting to collect additional fees.
Reporting illegal debt collection
If you experience abusive or unfair treatment by a debt collector, you may report these problems to the FTC or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You may also contact the office of your state attorney general. It is possible to sue a debt collector within one year of the when illegal collection practices took place.