No one likes to hear from them, but debt collectors need to be dealt with the right way. Don’t let them take advantage of you! Here are 48 things they cannot do. If a debt collector does any of these things to you, you can have the debt removed and sue them for a nice chunk of change. A debt collector cannot do the following things:
- Use a false identity.
- Disclose the name of his/her employer unless specifically asked to do so.
- State that the debtor owes any debt.
- Communicate with a 3rd party more than once unless requested to do so by the 3rd party.
- Communicate via postcard.
- Use any language or symbol on any envelope or in the contents of any communication through the U.S. postal system or by telegram which reveals that the communication relates to the collection of a debt.
- Contact a debtor represented by an attorney or any other person in connection with the debt.
- Communicate with a debtor absent his/her prior consent given directly to the debt collector or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction.
- Communicate with a debtor at any unusual time or place or a time or place any reasonable person would know to be inconvenient to the debtor. Absent contradictory information, a debt collector must assume that the convenient time for communicating with a debtor is after 8 AM and before 9 PM, local time at the debtor’s location.
- Communicate with a debtor at his/her place of employment if the debt collector knows or has reason to know that the debtor’s employer prohibits such communication in connection with the collection of any debt.
- Communicate with any person other than the debtor, his/her attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.
- Continue to attempt communication with a debtor that has notified the debt collector in writing that the debtor refuses to pay the debt or that the debtor wishes the debt collector to cease further communication with the debtor.
- Engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt.
- Threaten the use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.
- Use obscene or profane language or language which is intended to abuse the hearer or reader.
- Publish of a list of debtors who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a debtor reporting agency or to persons meeting the requirements of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Advertise the sale of any debt with the intent to coerce payment of the debt.
- Cause a telephone to ring or engage any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.
- Place telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity.
- Use any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.
- Represent or imply that the debt collector is vouched for, bonded by, or affiliated with the United States or any state, including the use of any badge, uniform, or facsimile thereof.
- Falsely represent the character, amount or legal status of any debt.
- Falsely represent the services rendered or compensation which may be lawfully received by any debt collector for the collection of a debt.
- Represent or imply that any individual is an attorney or that any communication is from an attorney.
- Represent or imply that nonpayment of any debt will result in the arrest or imprisonment of any person or the seizure, garnishment, attachment, or sale of any property or wages of any person unless such action is lawful and the debt collector or creditor intends to take such action.
- Threaten to take any action that cannot legally be taken or that is not intended to be taken.
- Represent or imply that the sale, referral, or other transfer of any interest in a debt shall cause the debtor to lose any claim or defense to payment of the debt.
- Represent or imply that the sale, referral, or other transfer of any interest in a debt shall cause the debtor to become subject to any practice prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Falsely represent or imply that the debtor committed any crime or other conduct in order to disgrace the debtor.
- Communicate or threatening to communicate, to any person, credit information which is known or which should be known to be false, including the failure to communicate that a disputed debt is disputed.
- Use or distribute any written communication which simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any State, or which creates a false impression as to its source, authorization, or approval.
- Use any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a debtor.
- Fail to disclose in the initial written communication with the debtor and if the initial communication with the debtor is oral, in that initial oral communication, that the debt collector is attempting to collect a debt and that any information obtained will be used for that purpose, and the failure to disclose in subsequent communications that the communication is from a debt collector, except that this paragraph shall not apply to a formal pleading made in connection with a legal action.
- Falsely represent or imply that accounts have been turned over to innocent purchasers for value.
- Falsely represent or imply that documents are legal process.
- Use any business, company, or organization name other than the true name of the debt collector’s business, company, or organization.
- Falsely represent or imply that documents are not legal process forms or do not require action by the consumer.
- Falsely represent or imply that a debt collector operates or is employed by a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.
- Collect any amount (including any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.
- Accept from any person a check or other payment instrument postdated by more than five days unless such person is notified in writing of the debt collector’s intent to deposit such check or instrument not more than ten nor less than three business days prior to such deposit.
- Solicit any postdated check or other postdated payment instrument for the purpose of threatening or instituting criminal prosecution.
- Deposit or threaten to deposit any postdated check or other postdated payment instrument prior to the date on such check or instrument.
- Cause charges to be made to any person for communications by concealment of the true purpose of the communication. Such charges include, but are not limited to, collect telephone calls and telegram fees.
- Take or threaten to take any nonjudicial action to effect dispossession or disablement of property if there is no present right to possession of the property claimed as collateral through an enforceable security interest, or there is no present intention to take possession of the property, or the property is exempt by law from such dispossession or disablement.
- Apply payments from the debtor to any debt in contradiction to the debtor’s instructions with regard to the payment.
- Design, compile, and furnish any form knowing that such form would be used to create the false belief in a debtor that a person other than the creditor of such debtor is participating in the collection of or in an attempt to collect a debt such debtor allegedly owes such creditor when in fact such person is not so participating.
- Be held liable in any action brought under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act if the debt collector shows by a preponderance of evidence that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error.
However, do you know what a debt collector is? The law is very specific on who is a debt collector. Don’t confuse a debt collector with the original creditor. Here is the official definition of a debt collector:
The term “debt collector” means any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another. Notwithstanding the exclusion provided by clause (F) of the last sentence of this paragraph, the term includes any creditor who, in the process of collecting his own debts, uses any name other than his own which would indicate that a third person is collecting or attempting to collect such debts. For the purpose of section 808(6), such term also includes any person who uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose of which is the enforcement of security interests. The term does not include –
(A) any officer or employee of a creditor while, in the name of the creditor, collecting debts for such creditor;
(B) any person while acting as a debt collector for another person, both of whom are related by common ownership or affiliated by corporate control, if the person acting as a debt collector does so only for persons to whom it is so related or affiliated and if the principal business of such person is not the collection of debts;
(C) any officer or employee of the United States or any State to the extent that collecting or attempting to collect any debt is in the performance of his official duties;
(D) any person while serving or attempting to serve legal process on any other person in connection with the judicial enforcement of any debt;
(E) any nonprofit organization which, at the request of consumers, performs bona fide consumer credit counseling and assists consumers in the liquidation of their debts by receiving payments from such consumers and distributing such amounts to creditors; and
(F) any person collecting or attempting to collect any debt owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another to the extent such activity (i) is incidental to a bona fide fiduciary obligation or a bona fide escrow arrangement; (ii) concerns a debt which was originated by such person; (iii) concerns a debt which was not in default at the time it was obtained by such person; or (iv) concerns a debt obtained by such person as a secured party in a commercial credit transaction involving the creditor.
(7) The term “location information” means a consumer’s place of abode and his telephone number at such place, or his place of employment.
(8) The term “State” means any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any political subdivision of any of the foregoing.