The Debtors Bill of Rights
The following is a list of common practices that are all prohibited by federal law and which you have a right to stop:
The Right to Stop Debt Collector Harassment!
Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you or any third parties they contact. For example, they may not:
Use threats of violence or harm;
Publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies);
Use obscene or profane language;
Repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone; or
Call outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time.
The Right to Stop False Statements!
Debt collectors may not lie
when they are trying to collect a debt. For example,
they may not:
Falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
Falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
Misrepresent the amount you owe;
Indicate that papers they send you are legal forms if they aren’t; or
Indicate that papers they send to you aren’t legal forms if they are.
The Right to Stop False Threats!
Debt collectors may not make false threats. For example, they may not indicate:
You will be arrested if you don’t pay your debt;
They’ll seize, garnish, attach, or sell your property or wages unless they are permitted by law to take the action and intendto do so;
Legal action will be taken against you, if doing so would be illegal or if they don’t intend to take the action;
or Take or threaten to take your property unless it can be done legally.
The Right to Stop Unfair Collection Practices!
Debt collectors may not engage in unfair practices when they try to collect a debt. For example, they may not:
Try to collect any interest, fee, or other charge on top of the amount you owe unless the contract that created your debt – or your state law – allows the charge;
Deposit a post-dated check early; Contact you by postcard;
Give false credit information about you to anyone, including a credit reporting company;
Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency if it isn’t; or
Use a false company name.
The Right to Stop Collectors from Contacting Other People!
Debt collectors generally may not call your employer, friends and family. For example:
The debt collector may not discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse, or your attorney, except to find out your address, your home phone number, and where you work;
If an attorney is representing you about the debt, the debt collector must contact the attorney, rather than you; or
If a collector knows you may not receive calls at work, the collector may not call you at work.