Americans now carry more than 2-trillion dollars in debt, and as that figure grows, so does the debt collection industry’s revenues… to the tune of more that 16-billion dollars a year. But just because you owe money, doesn’t mean debt collectors can treat you like a doormat.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires collection agencies to treat you fairly, while prohibiting some forms of debt collection. The act allows collectors to contact you in person, by mail, phone or fax, but a debt collector can not contact you at inconvenient times (early in the morning or really late at night) unless you agree. You should also be safe from collection attempts at work, if the collector knows that your employer disapproves of such contacts.
Debt collectors may not harass you or make false statements. If you’re getting threats of violence or harm, or profane language or even repeating phone calls designed to annoy, then the debt collector is in violation.
So what should you do if you’re being subjected to unfair debt collection practices? First, get the identity of the debt collector. Then, notify them in writing to cease and desist from further communications and report the problem debt collector to your state’s Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission. Finally, get help paying back your debt, because even though you can defend yourself against debt collectors, you can’t simply erase the money you owe.