What Types of Debt Collection Practices Are Prohibited?

Harassment:  Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person. For example, debt collectors may not:

  • Use threats of violence or harm against the person, property, or reputation
  • Publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau)
  • Use obscene or profane language
  • Repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone
  • Telephone people without identifying themselves
  • Advertise your debt



False statements:  Debt collectors may not use any false statements when collecting a debt. For example, debt collectors may not:

  • Falsely imply that they are attorneys or government representatives
  • Falsely imply that you have committed a crime
  • Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit bureau
  • Misrepresent the amount of your debt
  • Misrepresent the involvement of an attorney in collecting a debt
  • Indicate that papers being sent to you are legal forms when they are not
  • Indicate that papers being sent to you are not legal forms when they are



Debt collectors also may not state that:

  • You will be arrested if you do not pay your debt
  • They will seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so, and it is legal to do so
  • Actions, such as a lawsuit, will be taken against you, which legally may not be taken, or which they do not intend to take



Debt collectors may not:

  • Give false credit information about you to anyone
  • Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not
  • Use a false name



Unfair practices:  Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices in attempting to collect a debt. For example, collectors may not:

  • Collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law
  • Deposit a post-dated check prematurely
  • Make you accept collect calls or pay for telegrams
  • Take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally
  • Contact you by postcard