A person who is late in making a debt payment or is past due on one or more payments will in many cases be contacted by a debt collection agency. While the entity that owns a debt has a right to collect what is owed, there are limits to the tactics that can be used to collect it. For instance, the debt collector is not allowed to list a debtor's name to anyone or any entity other than a credit reporting agency.
When talking to a debtor, a debt collector may not abuse, harass or threaten that person. It is illegal to use profanity while talking to a debtor or repeatedly call with the purpose of annoying the debtor through the phone. Debt collectors may not threaten to sue an individual or take their property unless they intend to do so and are entitled to do so by law.
A debt collector is not allowed to use a fake company name or charge fees and interest to collect the debt unless state law or the contract allows for the additional charge. It is also not legal to send false information to a credit reporting agency or claim to be part of a government organization if the debt collector is not affiliated with the government.
Those who are having trouble staying ahead of their overwhelming debt may wish to consider bankruptcy. A bankruptcy attorney may be able to explain the process of filing and what it means for a debt to be discharged. As soon as a debtor files for bankruptcy, he or she is generally entitled to a stay of further creditor contact. There are eligibility and other requirements that the attorney can explain.