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Facing Debt Collection? Know Your Rights

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Dealing with financial trouble is stressful enough. But when a debt collector is hounding you using unscrupulous methods, it can make matters even worse.

The fact is, you have some rights when it comes to dealing with debt collection agencies. They’re spelled out in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which  protects consumers from abusive, harassing or unfair debt collection practices, and is enforced by the FTC. Here’s the abbreviated version of the key provisions:

Under the FDCPA, debt collectors are not permitted to:

  • call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • contact you at work if you’ve told them verbally or in writing that your employer doesn’t allow you to get such calls in the workplace
  • contact a third party about you for any reason other than getting your contact information; simply put, they may not tell anyone that you owe money
  • harass or abuse you or anyone else they contact about you
  • lie about the amount you owe
  • use deceptive methods to collect a debt from you. For example, they may not:
    • falsely claim to be law enforcement officers
    • claim that you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay your debt
    • threaten to seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or your wages — unless they are permitted by law to do it and intend to do so
    • give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company
    • use a fake company name

Learn more about your rights when it comes to debt collectors — and how you can regain control of your finances.  

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Debt collect have to prove my debt within 30 days. Usually they only buy the debt and no paperwork. Is this correct?

First tactic is the ask them will they delete your debt off your credit report. if they can't do that tell them to give you a letter to be paid in full. If they can't do that either then don't bother giving a nickel, nothing else will help your credit report. Just keep replying with those two tactics. But for me personally I like to have fun with them. they start disrespecting me I start having phone sex with them. And usually they hang up and never call back.

DO NOT TRUST any of the 3 consumer credit reporting agencies who provide info to potential lenders!!! I have become an unpaid, full-time, credit report auditor for the agencies who profit by making money off our consumer reports. I guess their duties pretty much stop once data is entered. They do not hold themselves accountable for monitoring reports for accuracy and updates, ensuring that correct credit reports are given...That's in my job description, evidently, not theirs. I had a bankruptcy in 2008, which was discharged. April 2013, I got a copy of my free annual credit reports. Summaries reported me as having over $100,000 in debt balances and a debt ratio of 108%. Really?? Is that even possible.. After tons of my own researching, comparing reports from all 3 reporting agencies, making correlations and connections of so many false, inaccurate, outdated, unfair, I had to keep disputing. My entire credit file was a total disaster. I not only had to find all the invalid, derogatory reports, initiated the disputes, collected doc, wrote letters, ensured deletions were made and catch when a different named collector sends in same deleted acct. I was forced to take responsibility for all the inaccurate reports. The burden of proof, regarding false reporting from unknown collectors/creditors that I was totally unaware of, had never corresponded with and did not have any past or present accounts with. Even though, the majority of my credit file has been deleted, the damage is done. Costing me quite a few years of huge financing charges that I thought were from the initial bankruptcy, but I now can give thanks to the 3 credit reporting agencies, lenders and Collectors for help creating serious credit issues. A large group of separate entities,under different bank/collector names, reported the same exact closed acct as an opened one still in collection. All are using one of the same credit card balances, discharged many years ago. Also, old/transferred student loans not updated, but accumulated. Wrong info was reported from at least 15 different collectors, companies, and reporting agencies, themselves. Thank God for the help FTC, MO General Attorney's office and the FCPB are providing. They truly do protect our consumer rights. So, be aware and watch your back when it comes to credit reporting!!!

I could not agree with you more. In Dec 2013 I found that not only is the information inaccurate but none of the information is validated prior to being reported.

I too have been contacted these by many of these people who threaten me that there is a warrant 4 my arrest, when i call my local police they say pay no attention..IT IS A Scam!!! Not 2 mention I am a victom of has ID.Theft X4 over the years Starting with my XHusband who has my Social Security number not 2 mentio, I think people know who have been in my home over the years,without my knowledge when the local police dept. came into my home...and caught her (them)?, when I was 1500 miles away from home caring 4 my elderly Father for over 4 months I THINK MAYBETHESE PEOPLE WHO TRY 2 INTIMADATE AND CURSE AT ME Got their hands on the DO NOTCALL LIST

OF COURSE the credit bureaus don't care. Why? Because corporations pay them not to care very much. You see, if your credit score is lower, even a bit, then corporations can charge you higher interest rates. The LOVE that the credit bureaus don't really do anything but document whatever they are told, or whatever they find out. By find out, I mean that one time, I called one of the credit bureaus and asked them where they'd gotten the information they were now reporting in my credit report. The person I spoke with named the other credit bureau they'd gotten the information from. Did they check it for accuracy? No, did they ask the other credit bureau if that bureau had verified it for accuracy? No. I was told that the credit bureaus are not there to verify what they document, poor little them...they're just there to document, so don't blame the credit bureaus for inaccuracies, because they will tell you "It's just what I heard," when they tell you why they put what they did in your credit report. Sick, Sad, and Sorry. The credit bureaus are the most useless agencies on earth...unless you've got money to lend. Then they are your greatest friend.

this is so true, I am disputing many claims, when my wallet was stolen I sent all 3 credit reporting agencies with a police report of the theft, the cards and DL & SSN that was stolen.. I am still disputing charges that are not mine. they do not hold themselves accountable, something should be done about this. I really wish there was a law that made these agencies be held liable & make them be accountable for ruining peoples lives.

I had my wages garnish for over four years, and in the last three month they (whoever have come for the same amount as the balance I still paying). What can I do; I need help!! Please4...

For copies of the laws on the books go to and make sure that the Web address has https for security reasons. Please put your state initials in front of the when doing a Web search Also, you need to contact your state attorney general's office and file a written complaint. Ask for one sent hard copy if you cannot go to the library. One can go to the public library and access the Internet for free. In my town it is free for two hours. Please ask a reference librarian to help you. Stay diligent and do not let up. Cordially, Concerned citizen

My husband had a collection agency contact him through his job, about a debt that was from 2005, we are now in 2013, In Tennessee I believe the statue of limitation is six years. The debt they say is owe is over 15,000, and we know that is not true. What can we do?

I’m so tired of being harassed by a debt collector; they have made my family’s life a nightmare! The first time they called me they realized that I have never dealt with a debt collector before. They would not work with me on making payment. I was told how much I had to pay. Never sent me a validation notice on any of the debts they said I owed. I was paying them on 3 accounts and paid off one. I don’t even know if they were mine or not. Right after I had paid off one, they garnished our checking account, huge NSF fee’s, from the bank. I went to court and got the money back, the bank never refunded the NSF fees. (The check they wrote to refund the money that the judge said they were not entitled too was .50 short). If I wrote them a check and it was .50 cents short, they would have taken me to court and sued me for attorney’s fees and interest. I had to wait almost 3 weeks to get the money back. They called me after I told them not too. I get a notice in the mail today from our bank saying that they have a legal order to request production of our bank records by 9/20/13. (That is today’s date). I don’t know if the debts are mine or not. I do know that I don’t have the money to pay them. I just want them to leave me and my family alone! Will they be happy when were homeless.If we had the money we would hire an attorney. They know we dont so they just keep harassing us. Please make them stop!

Ladies and Gentleman,
If everyone stopped paying the collections these companies would be out of existence. So fight them if the statue of limitations has passed, make them spend money in courts and better off if you moved to a new state, sue them in your new state. Make them file appearances, which cost money, and then if you don't have enough evidence drop the lawsuit so you don't get hit with attorney fees.

I am under bankruptcy since 2010 i am 100%disabled physicly and mentaly and under sedation I am told that you cannot get credit cards for at least 7-10 years I dont recall receiving any credit cards and I get harrased 7 days a week all day long and I know im under bankrupcy and live on a disability check,I cannot afford heat or electricity and cannot by any means paying a dept,how can i stop these robo messages that I get 7 days a week all day long do I have any rights?

I recently went with a debt solution too avoid bankruptcy? All my Credits I sent out letters explaining my hardship, plus I am fully dis-abled? They have been calling my home on an average of 12-16 calls a day? I also, personally spoke too each one explaining too them my issues and that I had signed up with Freedom Debt Relief and therefore each and everyone of them will definitely get paid? So, if there is anyway I could get them too stop these Credits from calling me all hours day and night. I would truly appreciate it?? IT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER 2 MONTHS ALREADY AND THEY ARE MAKING ME CRAZY? Can you help me!!

I started to answer my phone with a company name. They are not allowed to call business. Just put up a Facebook page about a hobby that you would like to turn into a business. It could even be reviews on current TV programs. List your number as the company number. They will stop calling.

Talk about phone calls from people you owe money to- I am 100% disabled also, I missed a mortgage payment(so they say) and the bank ( a very well known bank) kept calling me 2-3x a DAY! for weeks! Until they finally found the check I sent them that they misplaced! Did they ever send me any paperwork about missing a payment, No! They kept calling me, asking repeatedly- When can I pay them, how much can I pay them. over and over again I felt like a prisoner going through brain- washing torture. They keep adding late charges, again and again. And again, no paperwork! NO proof of debt! A huge added debt for late fee...of what?this bank did not send me paperwork of any kind to show me what the late fees were for? a big fat NO! I am an older person with no family support. I am sick almost everyday. How can I find the energy to do the massive paperwork that it takes to complaint about this bank? I don't know! I know there are probably many other elderly people just like me , who are sick and ill every waking day of their life, and because we can't speak up for ourselves we get crushed by these big companies, or scammed by everyone else, it's really depressing. A person shouldn't have to live this way.

You can make a complaint about a bank to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The CFPB helps consumers connect with financial companies to get direct responses about problems. The CFPB says most companies respond to complaints within 15 days.

A Perkins loan servicer (UAS) tried to bill me for a mysterious ~$600, finally cleared that up, but then reported me as delinquent for absolutely no reason. This happened in July '13. They sent me a copy of their retraction they claimed they to the bureaus in Aug, and now, in March, my credit is STILL severely damaged. They never sent the retraction and flat-out lied to me.

I have enlisted in the FSA Ombudsman Group for help, and filed a complaint (that they will not even respond to) with the BBB where they are based.

Now, I've started to dispute the delinquent charges on my own (and have ALL the paperwork, statements, screenshots, payment notifications, and emails) to prove that I am in no way responsible or late in my payments. This is a part-time job in itself. If there ANY additional recourse, or organizations I can complain to, to warn others to avoid UAS?

This is absolutely unacceptable - to bust our asses in school, graduate, find jobs, and then find out that a company is going out of its way to destroy our credit?!? How can this be legal?


What to do when a creditor talks to you like you are a nobody and tells you that you don't know how to pay bills and put all your personal over the phone and when you asked for the address the creditor stated to me that he is not a customer service rep and he don't have to give me (cuss word) and I need to read the law again he don't have to give me proof of nothing.

The collection agency doesn't have to give you proof of anything? B.S. You MUST send them, in writing that is, a request to VALIDATE the amount they claim you owe. A collection agency MUST tell you who they are, where they are located, and also provide you with the collection agency registration numbers for their agents or their agency. Do some looking around, Google collection agency debt validation letter example, and pick one you like to copy it and formally send it to the collection agency or creditor. They do TOO have to behave, and if they tell you they don't and especially if they use profanity when speaking to you, you have a right to sue them. It could mean $1,000 to you, if you successfully sue them, and have them pay all your attorney fees to boot. Check it out.

The collection agency doesn't have to give you proof of anything? B.S. You MUST send them, in writing that is, a request to VALIDATE the amount they claim you owe. A collection agency MUST tell you who they are, where they are located, and also provide you with the collection agency registration numbers for their agents or their agency. Do some looking around, Google collection agency debt validation letter example, and pick one you like to copy it and formally send it to the collection agency or creditor. They do TOO have to behave, and if they tell you they don't and especially if they use profanity when speaking to you, you have a right to sue them. It could mean $1,000 to you, if you successfully sue them, and have them pay all your attorney fees to boot. Check it out.

Every business must register with the Department of Sec. Of State Corporation Division in your state. Send them a registered letter requesting information, also asking that they not contact you by any means other than in writing, give them 30 days to respond and when they do not send them a followup dispute lettle with a copy of the first letter letting them know you have disputed the debt and that the account be closed. There are legal actions you can take to protect yourself google how to dispute a debt.

We have a company that is call me and then calling my spouse on my business debt. he has no dealing with the debt. Also they are calling at 730 am pacific time. They tell us we have to return the equipment and still have the pay the remainder of the lease. we purchased the equipment and it was sent broken after 11 months and a couple weeks shy of the one year warranty did the company offer to fix it. the finance company says that is reasonable. I say no that is not reasonable. What can we do to get out of this lease for the broken equipment.

Sallie Mae sent me a delinquency notice on a loan from 1992 that I do not remember having, I have paid all those off. It is late, with fees and interest... and this was just last year that it appeared. I ask and ask and ask where has this loan been, I have lived in the same place for 18 years and it just appears now? I ask for proof in writing and yet keep getting calls to work out a payment plan over the phone. They call everyone connected to me to see where I am, and I ask them again, no calls, SEND ME proof and an explanation. Nothing! What can I do to get the proof or make them go away, they are annoying and will not work with me!

What you need to do, since this is such an old debt, is verify the Statute of Limitations for old debt in your state. If you know a debt is really old, and you know you have paid nothing on it for at least as long as the Statute of Limitations (usually 4 or 6 years), then they CANNOT hound you for a payment. However, if they DO get you to pay anything on this old debt, that resets the clock for the Statute of Limitations to have to run out again, and so Sallie Mae can keep on hounding you to pay more and more for the next 4 or 6 years or whatever it is in your state. DO NOT PAY OLD DEBTS if you are SURE you haven't paid anything on them for at least as long as the Statute of Limitation time period is in your state.

Another complaint against Sallie Mae I see...My problem with them is they are calling at all times of the day, but the ones that I am really complaining about are the ones before 8 AM and after 9 PM. There should be a phone # that we can call to actually file the complaint, instead of leaving a comment. I do not see how this resolves anything with them being outside of Credit Compliance!

Can a debt collector put a collection account at a credit bureau but never contact me about the debt. A debt collector used a 6 year old address. The forwarding is long expired and I had no idea I owed the debt until I was notified by a credit monitoring service that the collection account had been placed in the credit bureau.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that prevents a debt collector from reporting to the credit bureaus without collection. And without collection efforts, you might never learn that the debt appears in your credit report. This practice does not violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as long as the information is accurate.

But, if the address is six years old the debt will likely fall off the report soon under the seven year negative reporting rule. You can check your credit report for free at and check. By federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting bureaus. Also, you should be able to contact the company that reported the debt if you’d like to clarify the item your report.

Reviewing my credit I found a value of $ 170 dollars has reported for collection. I Called the phone and they say they do not know why I was reported ,But they asked me if I had had a card services from North American Company . I have never used this service neither have had business relationship with them. I Sent a letter to experian but I'm still there reported . My score is 16. I have been denied credit and Interest is at 36 % What can I do ??

can a busines send a collection agency after me if I have asked for paper work to prove that the charge is just and have paperwork for my records. The business has not sent any paperwork other than the bill. Seems unfair to me a business can do this.

Hi, so some debt collection agency is failing to so its job and harassing me. What happened to sending written notification within seven days after initial contact? Why harass using my phone number? Stupid hospital. I cannot do a thing over the phone and will not because the agency hides their caller ID so it is screened and never answered and the messages deleted. Hey. Whatever. They cannot legally contact me anymore either. Medical debts suck.

I need help I get collection places calling me 10+ times a day I answer every call that I can even when im at work which I can get into trouble for n explain how im homeless wot my 4 year old n sleepin on a friends couch n I was told u cant be homeless n have a job n told that im nnot doing any thing to try tobtake care of problem ive always paid bills online till my hiurs at work got cut lost my apartnent n everything ive asked them not to call me while at work n I drive for my job and they continue I now try blovking nunbers n than new ones call what can I do to stop this ive told them when I file my taxes ill pay them n than was yelled at for not being able tyo file now cuz I dont have all my w2 some one help going crazy n stressed to the max

Mia, I had a collection agency call me every day. In my state they could only legally call you 1 time in a 7 day period. I called them out about it. Told them I have proof on my cellphone they were breaking the law and that I'm suing. They stopped calling. Find out what the law is in your state.

I was doing ok until cancer, which i beat. But i had bills.I am on disabilty and getting phone calls for debts from 1998, 1999, 2000, they call my moms home phone and blow up my cell also. What can i do.

If you have old debts, collectors may not be able to sue you to collect on them. Debt collectors have a limited number of years — called the statute of limitations — to sue you to collect. After that, your unpaid debts are considered "time-barred." According to the law, a debt collector cannot sue you for not paying a debt that's time-barred.

To find out the statute of limitations on different kinds of debts in your state, check with a legal aid lawyer, another attorney, or your State Attorney General's Office.

The FTC's Debt Collection article has more information about your rights.

Thank dates in years run 8-18 years old...crazy rite???? I did talk to someone from But that was a while back and they said dont worry about it. But they ain't gettin the fricken calls...sorry. I feel sad enough. neways thanks for your words. Very well put. liken that..

contact an attorney who specializes in consumer debt and let them know what is going on. They can help you sue them for harassment among other things. next time they call tell them you are contacting an attorney regarding their harrassment and attempts to collect on debts that are no longer eligible to be collected or reported on per FDCPA and state statute of limitations laws.

Anyone hear of IQ data collection. This place is awful. They refuse to work with me. They have threatened to garnished my wages, called my fiances work, called his mother, they call us 10 or more times a day. We told them we could only do payments however, they say they will "only take the payment in full. Visa or MasterCard?" they are rude and have no sense of professionalism. Told me to take out a loan to pay the amount off. I'm just done and don't know what to do.

IQ Data Is the worst!! They refuse to give documentation or set up payment arrangements which keeps me from being able to rent from any agency in my county who does credit check. When I told them that they are forcing homelessness on me and my children and they said pay the debt in full to get documentation. They are ruthless with their tactics. However the harassment stopped last year because they got sued multiple times for violating people's rights.

These details are important for law enforcement to know. Please report what happened to you to the FTC, at, so the information goes into the secure database that law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database

Hi, I am have been and continue to pay a creditor I had 7 accounts with. I paid 4 of those accounts off in full. I have been making payments to the other three. I noticed they are not apply the money I am paying to the account I want it paid to. I wrote them a letter to put my money on the accounts I request and I cc'd trans-union. So far they have not gotten back with me. What can I do? I am trying to show that I am making consistent and monthly payments.

If you think the credit reporting company is making a mistake, read this FTC article about disputing errors on your credit report.  If you have a disagreement with the creditor, contact them directly, and ask about the terms of your payment agreement.

have debt collectors calling for debt from 2006 no longer on my credit report,. Limitations up

Collection Agencies are like a CANCER! In particular Portfolio Recovery Associates in Norfork VA. This agency is deceptive (Clear Violation of the Law), they will not identify themselves until YOU do. Once they do, they will be your forever STALKER! I went to great length in email and by telephone that I do not owe the debt. My name is common, there's a bzillion women in the USA with the same name. When I provided the last 4 digits of my SS, it did not match the person they are "stalking". The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is totally useless. I should not have to PROVIDE more private information nor pay attorney fees, and change my telephone number to stop PRA. This is outright abuse and total harassment by PRA. Need Government to step-up and protect innocent consumers.

A legitimate debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. The notice has to include the name of the creditor you owe money to, and what you can do if you don’t think you owe the money. Please see Debt Collection to learn more about your rights.

Report problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney General’s office, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your Attorney General’s office can help you determine your rights under your state’s law

You also might be interested in reading the FTC post, Partners bring more than 100 debt collection enforcement actions.

I have had a collection agency call me claiming to be a law firm and if i didnt pay today they would have to send my case to my county for check fruad. And suspend my liscens. Can they do such things?

You can read about your rights in this FTC article about debt collection.

A legitimate debt collector can't lie when he's trying to collect a debt. He can't falsely say he is a lawyer or government representative. He can't say he will take legal action against you if he really doesn't intend to do that.

If you know you have a debt, contact the person or company you owe. Ask about your account. Ask if they are working with the person who called you.

I can't even get an initial debt notice They will not give me an address or anything. Just that they are issuing a warrant and good luck in court. Stressful and upsetting any ideas

No they cannot do that! It is illegal!!! The next time they do it tell them to send that to you in writing. If you want them to stop contacting you, you must send them a cease and desist letter. You should be able to google it online and edit it specific to your situation. Hope this helps.


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