Consumers are protected from debt collection harassment by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (consumer.ftc.gov). The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes it illegal for debt collectors to be abusive, unfair or deceptive in their attempts to collect money from consumers.
Debts that are covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are personal, family and household debts. These would include mortgages, personal credit card accounts and personal loans. Entities that are bound by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are debt collectors - people or organizations who regularly collect on third-party debts.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits certain activities on the part of the debt collector. For example, it prohibits the debt collector from making calls outside of certain hours and from making harassing phone calls. There are also limitations on when a debt collector can contact someone else about a person’s debt.
The collector can contact an attorney if the attorney represents the person who owes the debt. Beyond that, the collector can only contact other people to find out where the person who owes the debt lives, what his or her phone number is and where he or she works.
Debt collectors are also not allowed to use obscene language, make threats of harm or falsely represent themselves as government representatives. Finally, they cannot threaten to arrest the debtor, or seize or garnish property or wages unless they are legally allowed to.
READ MORE BILL COLLECTOR LEGAL NEWS
Recently, The Better Business Bureau (4/26/13) issued information about a debt collection company accused of threatening and harassing behavior. The agency reportedly received almost 60 complaints in 36 months about the company. Those complaints included threats of jail and lawsuits against debtors, and taking money from accounts without permission.