Can a debt collector use false information to collect a debt?

Debt collectors who are contacting Minnesota residents may not use any false or misleading information to get a debtor to take action. For instance, a debt collector may not claim to be associated with any state or federal government entity. They may also not give misleading or false information regarding how much a debtor may owe or what actions may be taken if the debt is not repaid.

Debt collectors may not insinuate that a debtor has committed a crime by not paying the debt. They may also not say anything that would degrade the debtor or threaten to take actions that they do not intend to take. Any information communicated to a debtor by a debt collector regarding his or her credit status must be fully accurate.

When a debt collector contacts a consumer, it must use its real business name. It must also tell a debtor whether or not the debtor needs to take action in regards to any forms or notices that he or she may receive. A debt collector is not allowed to tell a debtor that forms are not legal process if they in fact are. If a form is not legal process, the debt collector may not say or imply that they are.

Debtors who are looking to put a stop to harassment may wish to discuss the situation with a bankruptcy attorney. Filing for bankruptcy can result in an automatic stay against further collection activities. Any further contact could result in the offending party being held in contempt and subject to a civil fine. There are eligibility and other requirements associated with filing for bankruptcy that the attorney can outline.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act", accessed on Feb. 2, 2015

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