How to Deal with Shady Debt Collectors

If you’ve ever had a debt that goes to collections, you know how it feels when debt collectors won’t stop harassing you until the debt is resolved.


Unfortunately, not enough people know about the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) which lays out strict rules that debt collectors must follow when contacting you about repayment. There are serious consequences if they don’t.

What Debt Collectors Can and Cannot Do:
1. Call After Hours
Think debt collectors can call you at all hours of the day? Think again. The FDCPA mandates that debt collectors can’t call you after 9:00 p.m. or before 8:00 a.m. unless you tell them that they can. You can give them permission to call after hours if you can’t speak with them during the work day.

2. Harass You
Debt collectors have the right to try to collect on the debt that you owe. However, they don’t have the right to harass you into repayment. This means no yelling, no threats, no profane language and no irritating you with excessive phone calls.

3. Lie to You
Harassment isn’t always just how someone talks to you — it can also lie in what they say. Debt collectors are not allowed to lie to you about the debt that you owe or what can happen to you if you don’t repay it. You can find a detailed list of “false or misleading representations” that can occur and that aren’t allowed on pages eight through 10 of this PDF.

4. Call You at Work
It’s not unheard of for a debt collector to try to contact someone at their place of employment (sometimes repeatedly). However, the FDCPA restricts this activity and mandates that a debt collector can’t call you at work if you’re not allowed to receive calls there.

That said, debt collectors need to know your employer’s policy. If a collector calls you at work and you tell them that you’re not allowed to receive those types of calls while there, they must not do it again.

5. Communicate with You Instead of Your Attorney (If You Have One)
Another activity that debt collectors can’t engage in once they’re aware of it is call you if you’re retaining an attorney. If a collector calls you, you first need to tell them that you’ve obtained legal counsel and then share your attorney’s name and contact information with them. Unless your attorney is unresponsive to the debt collector, they are the only person that the collector should call.

6. Try to Collect More Than You Owe
According to the FDCPA, “a debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt.” These means are what the FDCPA call unfair practices, and they include actions like trying to collect more than you owe, illegally taking your property and more.

7. Successfully Sue You for Time-Barred Debt
An unpaid debt can eventually become time-barred after a certain amount of time, meaning that the statute of limitations on it has expired. A debt collector can’t successfully sue you for repayment once that happens.

What to do if these things happen to you? If there are debt collectors that are harassing you, please report them here.

Hope this helps and have a great day!