The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, protects consumers against certain unfair collection practices. It applies only to third-party debt collectors, as opposed to original creditors, and only for personal debts. Here are 11 actions which are sometimes taken by third party debt collectors and which activities are utterly unlawful: 


1. Calling You Repeatedly to Annoy or Harass You

The law: Collectors can’t call repeatedly just to harass you. If you think a debt collector is calling too often, or doing it to annoy and/or harass you into paying the claimed debt, tell them to stop and start making a record of every time they call and any messages they leave.

2. Trying to Collect More Than You Owe

The law: Debt collectors may be allowed to charge interest on debts they are collecting. But they can’t charge more than the amount described in the original contract or what is permitted by law. In other words, they can’t illegally inflate debt.

3. Fail to Send a Written Notice of the Debt

The law: Within five days of initially contacting you, the collector must send written notice of the debt that includes:

·       The amount of the debt

·       The name of the original creditor to whom the debt is owed

·       A statement describing your right to dispute the debt


4. Threatening Violence

The law: Debt collectors may not threaten violence when collecting debts. Such threats violate federal law and the law in every state.

5. Threatening Ominous Consequences

The law: Collectors can’t threaten a lawsuit, criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, jail time, or to ruin your credit rating unless they have the legal basis and authority to do so, and actually intend to carry out such threats.

6. The Use of Profane, Abusive or Obscene 


The law: The use of obscene, profane or abusive language is illegal. Debt collector going overboard? Take notes and tell them you’ll be taping the conversation.

7. Calling Before 8 a.m. or After 9 p.m.

The law: Collectors may not call before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. (unless you’ve given them permission to do so), or at times you’ve told them are inconvenient.

8. Revealing Debt to Third Parties

The law: Collectors can call third parties such as family, neighbors, friends or co-workers only to locate the debtor. When they do, they can’t reveal the debt and there are limits on repeated calls. The debt can be discussed with your attorney and your spouse.

9. Calling You at Work After You’ve Told Them to Stop

The law: If you tell a collector not to call you at work to discuss the debt, those calls must stop. And debt collectors cannot discuss debts with co-workers except in very limited circumstances (when executing a legal wage garnishment, for example).

10. Failing to Verify Disputed Debts

The law: If you dispute a collection account in writing, the collector must stop trying to collect until it provides written verification of the debt.

11. Ignoring Cease Communication Requests

The law: Consumers have the right to tell a debt collector, in writing, to stop contacting them. Once the debt collector gets that notice, contact must stop, except to send written notification of legal action against the debt collector.