What are debt collectors allowed and not allowed to do?

In the pursuit to reestablish credit, an individual will most likely encounter a debt collection agency and be forced to interact with them. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ensures all citizens of Minnesota basic protections against potential creditor harassment and outlines what the government considers fair debt collection practices.

According to these laws, a collection agency may only speak to someone or their legal representative about the debt. This agency may contact friends and family about their whereabouts, but they cannot speak to them about the debt or any details pertaining to it.

In all actuality, debt collectors can only discuss a few certain things, namely the amount owed, the original creditor, payment plans and settlement agreements. And although they can threaten to sue to collect on a debt, they are not allowed to use harassing language in any way.

Deceptive and repetitive phone calls are also prohibited. If someone from a debt collection agency calls and pretends to be a friend or someone an individual is are familiar with, they can ask this person to reveal their real identity. Legally, they are required to disclose if they are, in fact, working for a collection agency or not.

If someone is experiencing harassing phone calls from a debt collector, they may want to have a lawyer send a written request for them to stop contact. This is especially effective if someone is receiving repetitive phone calls in the workplace where it may be endangering their relationship with their employer. If this harassment goes beyond a manageable level, they may also have a lawyer file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Source: The Motley Fool, "Can a Debt Collector Really Do That to Me?", December 29, 2014

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