You are here

Know your debt collection rights

Share this page

Know someone who’s behind on their bills? Maybe debt collectors are calling for payment? Our new debt collection video can help you understand your legal rights – and may lower your stress level.


In the video, you’ll see how bad debt collectors try to get you to pay up. Bad debt collectors will say anything to get you to pay – and they’ll make it feel urgent to get you to pay immediately. But there are laws to protect you. Debt collectors:

  • Can't call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Can't use profanity, threaten violence or harass you to pay
  • May not lie or pretend to be someone they're not
  • Cannot ask you to pay a debt that doesn't even exist
  • Can't threaten you with arrest or deportation
  • Cannot tell anyone - except your spouse or attorney - about your debt

If a debt collector calls and uses any of these tactics, hang up and report it to the FTC. Remember: you have the right to be treated fairly – no matter what.

Want more information about debt collection? Visit

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


First of all I don't answer phone if I don't recognize phone number. This one company BRG keeps calling me and telling me "this is our locate and tracing efforts" what does that mean?

I recently received a settlement check from a case against Portfolio Recovery. A week later, I began receiving calls from them again regarding a credit card dispute from 13 years ago. I thought they were barred from these same practices; otherwise, what was the purpose of the lawsuit?

If you think a company is violating a settlement you can report it to the agency that sent you the settlement check, the FTC at or to your state Attorney General.

I have filed 3 complaints with the FTC over the last 4 years. Other than a confirmation message, I have yet to receive a single response from them.
Filing with the FTC is one thing. The FTC doing anything about it is quite another.

I'm surprised that a debt collector could tell your spouse about a debt if they are not a party to the obligation. Is this correct?

Our debt collection article has more detail, but to answer your question, yes, a debt collector is allowed to discuss your debt with your your spouse.

I get those same calls, I have no idea what they are.

This video is wonderful! Thank you for making it, and especially for making it available in Spanish! I will be using it in my financial education classes.

where can I find it in Spanish?

See the blog and video in Spanish here.

See the blog and video in Spanish here.

are debt collectors allowed to spoof the caller ID phone number? Calls reflected on the caller ID show a local number even though they are located out of state.

The can and do report to the Credit Bureau even if you're less than 30 days late!

Are debts wiped off credit reports after seven years ? I thought they could not report medical debts.

A credit reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years.

It's important to review your credit report to make sure the information is correct and up to date, and to help guard against identity theft. You can get a free copy of your report when you ask for it, once every 12 months. To order your free report, visit, or call 1-877-322-8228.

What about creditors that create an unfounded collection based on doctored and incomplete evidence which was sent to the credit bureaus? How should I approach this to get it removed?

Under federal law, both the credit reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that gave information about you to a credit reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. Read more about how to dispute errors on credit reports. 

The FTC has GREAT INFORMATION ABOUT CREDIT. Where can I find the latest & newest laws concerning credit, debt, debt collectors, FDCPA, FCA, FCBA & any other laws that on consumer credit

I think that the only real debt that anyone would owe would most likely be what they receive in the mail and not over the phone or via email or even text messaging.

I once had a debt collector call two of my neighbors to gather information on my whereabouts since I ignored their attempts to contact me. Is this legal?

Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting third parties more than once. Other than to obtain this location information about you, a debt collector generally is not permitted to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney.

I am curious about a company offering to assist me with my private student loans that have gone into default and also state they will connect me with credit consolidation/repair company. I didn't see anything on the BBB website negative re this company. Hoping for advice before I sign on the dotted line.

  • Check out a business with business with your state Attorney General and local consumer protection agency.
  • Read about warning signs of a student loan consolidation scam.
  • You can talk with your lender or loan servicer yourself. You might be able to negotiate with your lender or set up a repayment plan yourself.
  • Read about student loans and default. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has questions & answers about student loans and your rights.
  • You could work with a credit counselor to get help with your finances. Some credit unions have credit counselors. The U.S. Cooperative Extension Service has counselors too; search online for Cooperative Extension Service plus your state name. Credit counselors can help you make a budget. Credit counselors also can help you plan to repay your debt.

Unfortunately & unknown to me, six years ago my wife took out almost 10 "payday" loans, most online. When it hit the fan I paid off all of them in full but at the time was unaware that the two of them that required a payoff via a green dot card were scams. Now, she is on a scammers list and we are bombarded with fake debt collectors calling our land line constantly. The usual fare as you may expect, threatening arrest at our home or her job, jail time, wage garnishments. leans on our home etc. First I put my own home in order to avoid any future issues, then I educated myself with all of the scams out there today and how to fight back or avoid them. These threats have been going on for years now and not once has she been arrested, brought to court, had her wages garnished or a lean on our home. Their threats are nothing more than scare tactics and bravado and have no substance to them at all. Now that I am confident in my own abilities to deal with these scammers I occasionally engage them if I am feeling confrontational. My day is made when I waste their time and get them so frustrated they hang up on me. If you're move passive, never answer any call that isn't someone you know, let it go to voice mail. This gives you the opportunity to research the phone number before you do something foolish. If you are in a similar position, educate yourself, learn your rights and do your research. Finally, although your caller ID can and is spoofed, it is still a valuable tool to help you make an informed decision before you answer that call. Don't recognize the name, number, area code, or anything else that looks suspicious, do not answer. This is simple and will save you a lot of time & grief. I hope this helps some of you and stay smart.

We settled a credit card debt with a major company. We are now getting calls and letters from a colection company that bought their debt. Is there anything else we can do. We ignore all contacts as we were advised, but they call at least once a day

Read about your rights when dealing with debt collectors.

If you don’t want a collector to contact you again after the first contact, you can tell the collector – in writing – to stop contacting you. Read the article for more information.

I've been in a bad situation for a while now. I had a credit card before I was involved in an auto accident that was to blame for me being disabled now. I told the credit card company about it. Sent the paperwork off for it. Was approved for their insurance then after 2-3 months they started charging an arm and a leg on fees after knowing I was unable to pay. Afterwards I've had 4 spinal surgeries and still ongoing medical treatments which now I'm in the hole for over a half million dollars. These so called debt collectors have been harassing me since 2014 sending me statements that they were going to start garnishing wages to get their money, going to send a 1099 to make me pay through taxes, going to do something that's never been heard of before.

Once they haven't gotten any of their money that they want they send it to another bill collector. I know the old way was after 2 years they can't try to collect a debt. How are they able to keep reporting bad marks on a credit score on a debt almost 4 years old now? Next, how can a hospital change someone for an infection that they got from the hospital in the first place? My 4th surgery was to clean an infection that was turned to mrsa, never had it before the surgery but had it after my 2nd back surgery which added about $100,000.00 onto an already high hospital bill.

I had a debt collection agency call to discuss a delinquent credit card account that the company had purchased to try and settle my account on. Unfortunately I answered the phone call and the man stated the amount I owed ($950.00), I explained the health hardships I had been through in the last couple of years and stated I wanted to make good on my debt owed. He then went on to say that they would be willing to take six equal payments to settle out my account. When I told him I was barely making ends meet and that was not an option, but I could make payments of $30 a month until I was able to make larger payments monthly, he said that was not good enough. I was trying to work with this debt collection agency and they refused to take smaller monthly payments until I could get on my feet and be financially stable. They gave me the alternative of calling friends and family to borrow the money and call back in two days with my response. My parents have passed away, so I am left to ask my friends and siblings which I refuse to do.
Can this company refuse to accept some form of payment from me no matter how small my monthly payments would be as long as I am trying to take care of the debt!?

If you have old debts, collectors may not be able to sue you to collect on them. That's because debt collectors have a limited number of years — known as 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. Read more about time-barred debts.

You may want to talk with a credit counselor about your finances. You might find a credit counselor at a credit union, housing authority or U.S. Cooperative Extension Office. The US Department of Justice has an online listing of credit counseling agencies.

I have reported Discover to the FTC over doing this to me for years>>> The FTC sides with Discover!!!

another way of not being able to pay ur bills, is get a green certification card from the post office and fill it out like it says too, and peel the sides and put it on the front of ur bills or bill..and write ceist and desist on it and they cant call u at home or at work and cant send u a letter anymore, and it will stop all the harrassement of any kind...i have done it and im living proof that it works..thank you PATRICIA LACKEY..

If your creditcard debt or any debt has been charged off that means you don't have to pay it back?
Third-party debt collectors are not attorneys so therefore cannot legally go after you for something that they have sold for a penny pee dollar or less?

Can lawyers office call you on Sunday at 8:05 to collect money


Can a debt collector working for a creditor like AT&T that is servicing the debt say that they "will not report you to the credit bureaus if you pay within the 30 day 'grace period'"?

How or where do I report a local collection agency thats adding to my debt

You can report that to the FTC at and to your state Attorney General. There is a list of state attorneys general at

I'm not behind on my payments. But the collection agency calls me two to three times a week. Is this considered harassment? I make more then the required payment amounts.

How do I find out what I debt I owe?
I also have several other question.

Leave a Comment