Know your debt collection rights

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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

Tagged with: debt, debt collection
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.

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


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