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Five Things Debt Collectors Can’t Do

Debt collectors have a bad reputation for doing whatever it takes to collect debts—including harassing and even threatening consumers. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) was enacted to prevent these types of behaviors. However, some debt collectors continue to use illicit tactics when dealing with consumers. In this article, we examine five things that debt collectors can’t do to collect debts. 

Pretend to Work for the Government 

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from pretending to work for the government. In addition, debt collectors can’t claim to work for a consumer reporting agency. 

Threaten to Have You Arrested

An old tactic of debt collectors is to claim that a debtor will face criminal charges if he or she fails to pay back a debt. Not only is this untrue, but it is illegal under the FDCPA. A debt collector may not threaten a debtor with arrest for failure to pay a debt. 

Shame Debtors in Public

Debt collectors have also been known to try to shame consumers into paying back money owed. However, debt collectors are forbidden by law from trying to publicly shame or humiliate debtors into paying back money. Examples of related illegal debt collection activities include

  • publishing the name of a debtor,
  • contacting debtors by postcard (this can expose a debtor’s information publicly), and
  • discussing the debt with anyone other than the debtor, the debtor’s spouse, or the debtor’s attorney.

Debt collectors may, however, contact third parties to try to track a debtor down. But when they do so, they are only allowed to request a debtor’s address, home phone number, and place of employment. 

Attempt to Collect a Debt a Debtor Doesn’t Owe 

Debt collectors have been known to try to knowingly collect debts from people who don’t owe them. Debt collectors also sometimes attempt to collect debts from the wrong people by mistake. Regardless of the reason, debt collectors aren’t allowed to do this. 

Harass Debtors

The law lists several types of harassment that debt collectors are forbidden from engaging in. Debt collectors may not do any of the following when trying to collect a debt:

  • threaten a debtor with harm or violence,
  • use profane language,
  • call a debtor repeatedly,
  • call a debtor before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.,
  • call a debtor at work, or
  • contact a debtor at all if he or she makes a written request that the debt collector refrains from doing so.

Contact a California Debt Collection Lawsuit Defense Attorney 

Have you been sued by a debt collector in California? If so, you should contact a debt collection lawsuit defense attorney immediately. At the Fullman Firm, our debt collection defense attorneys have nearly fifty years of combined debt collection lawsuit defense experience. When you come to us for help, we will aggressively defend you and do everything in our power to ensure that your case is a success. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.